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This book: 

- was written over a century ago, yet was surely designed by 
Divine Providence especially for our day. 

- was immediately and explosively influential when first 
published in France in 1881. 

- was acknowledged by St. Theresa of Lisieux in her writings as 
possibly the single most important inspiration for the 
dedication of her life to the path which led to her 
becoming, in the words of Pope St. Pius X, "the greatest 
saint of modern times." 

- was then allowed to fall - or was pushed - into oblivion, 
and scarcely heard of again, until, in the 1960s, right 
in the "Vatican II" era, the Office Central de Lisieux 
noticed the references to it in St. Theresa's writings and 
felt impelled to bring this most un-"Vatican II"-like 
book back into print (in French), and to keep it there for 
some twenty years, until abandoning it for good on the 
grounds that its contents "do not reflect the ideas of our 
time. " 

- And is now translated by arrangement with us and presented 
to the English-speaking world as one of the truly epoch- 
making Catholic works, one of the greatest and most 
inspiring masterpieces of Catholic literature to have been 
written since the Reformation. 

General Description. 

The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future 
Life is a compendium of Catholic doctrine and tradition on the 
subject of eschatology, also known as the science of the Last 
Things. Eschatology falls into two" halves: the Last Things as 
they concern the world (the great apostasy from the Church; the 


Antichrist persecutions; the return of "the two witnesses , Henoch 
and Elias; the conversion of the. Jews ; the Second Coming of -_Our_- 
Lord- the resurrection of the dead; and -the -General Judgement) - 
and the Last Things as they concern individuals (death,- judgement, 
Heaven and Hell, to quote the -Penny" Catechism):; and.Fr. Arminjon 
deals comprehensively with, both- halves . -■ "~" _ _ 

We do not hesitate to assert that no subject is more important 
or more enthralling than that of the Last Things, and we are 
scarcely less confident in asserting that never has there been 
written a treatment of the subject that is more thorough, more 
penetrating, more inspiring, or more securely founded on the 
authority of the popes, Fathers, saints and acclaimed theologians 
of the Catholic Church than" this work by Fr. Arminjon. 

It is difficult to know how best to give an indication of the 
book's extraordinary qualities; for although we must clearly 
highlight its salient features, this could be off-putting to 
some, readers, frightening them into thinking that the authors 
erudition and exhaustive attention to detail must make the book 
heavy going and perhaps difficult to understand. 

We emphasize at the outset, therefore, that one could almost 
call it a weakness of the book that it can be enjoyed for its 
literary qualities alone. So compulsively does the author carry 
the reader from one page to the next, that it is tempting to read 
the book too fast and too superficially, instead of digesting 
and meditating on each passage so as to ensure that the important 
and often terrible truths that Fr. Arminjon sets out become a 
permanent part of the reader's intellectual equipment. 

No, the book is not difficult to read.""' Let us glance at its 
other qualities. 

As already mentioned, it is comprehensive. Fr . Arminjon 
seems to overlook nothing in examining his subject. As each 
relevant point is presented for analysis, -he begins by considering 
it in the light of Holy Scripture, then quotes appositely from 
Catholic authorities, then carefully explains the correct inter- 
pretation of the Scriptural passages, and finally sheds what 
further light on the subject he can provide from his own mastery 
of the subject. Almost every page bristles with excerpts from the 
great writings of the Fathers and saints but never in such a way 
as to overwhelm the reader. And it need hardly be said that, both 
in what Fr . Arminjon quotes and in what he himself says, 
refreshingly absent in this book is the modern scepticism which 
has tainted so many works of eschatology written by authors, who 
while professing docility to the Church and the inspired word of 
God, nevertheless seem to place greater trust in the findings and 
theorizings of modern "scientists" and "enlightened thinkers. 

Father Arminjon follows in the footsteps of the Doctors and 
other great writers of the Church in his truly Catholic handling 


of authorities. If Scripture is unambiguous, he allows it to 
speak for itself. Where its meaning is doubtful, he gives the 
understanding of the Fathers. If a matter is uncertain, he tells 
us that we are free to choose whichever interpretation we prefer, 
but if the answer is definite he tells us so and confirms what he 
says with the words of a pope or the unanimous teaching of the 
Fathers. The saints and great theologians he cites with reverence 
and with due respect to their relative weight (pride of place 
among them going, of course, to St. Thomas Aquinas); and even 
private revelations to privileged souls are also introduced when 
appropriate, but sparingly and judiciously, accompanied by 
reminders to treat as certain what is certain and as doubtful what 
is doubtful, thus avoiding the pitfall of heeding the alleged 
voice of an unapproved apparition rather than the teaching of 
Christ's appointed Vicars. And every quotation is cited with 
its reference - the proof both of the immense breadth of Fr . 
Arminjon's scholarship and of his painstaking attention to detail. 

But again, please do not be put off by phrases like "immense 
breadth of scholarship" and "painstaking attention to detail. ' 
It is these qualities which enable great authors to write with 
accuracy and clarity; and readability does not have to be - and m 
this case is not - sacrificed as a result. 

Summary of Contents. 

The book is divided into nine "conferences" which were 
originally delivered orally in the presence of the Archbishop of 
Chambery and a thrilled congregation. 

For many people the first two conferences will be the most 
enthralling part of the book. In them Fr . Arminjon displays not 
only the theological mastery which we have already dwelt on, but 
also a superb sense of history and an excellent understanding of 
the events of his time and their significance, including a clear 
notion of the unseen but powerful subversive forces at work in 
the overthrow of society throughout the world. Indeed it is 
worthy of note that, even writing when he was, more than thirty 
years before the First World War, he could foresee what are 
perhaps the two most significant political events of -our present 
century, the terrible Socialist revolution which was already 
showing signs of threatening Russia and the subsequent claim 
- successful of course - of Palestine and Jerusalem by the Jews 
as" their own. .'___. 

The First Conference opens by refuting those self-confident, 
infidel braggarts, foreseen by St. Peter in 2 Peter 3:1-*4,* who 

■t that -the world will never end, and proves that when wicked- 


*"Behold this second epistle I write to you,- my dearly beloved,., 
that you may be mindful of those words which I told you before... 
knowing this first, that in the last days there shall come 
deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts, saying: Where 
is His promise or His coming? for since the time that the fathers 
slept, all things continue as they were from the beginning of 
creation. " 


ness is at its height God will wreak His vengeance and vindicate 
the just Even writing more than a century ago, Fr . Ar-minjon ™- : '"--_ 
was able" to point to signs in his own day which indicated clearly^ 
the relative closeness of the prophesied consummation; and no one 
who studies the signs he mentions, and takes into account the 
sway now held by evil over the entire world, could doubt that the 
events described in the Apocalypse are about to burst on us. 

The Second Conference describes the persecution by Antichrist, 
and other momentous events, such as the return of Henoch and Elias, 
and draws on and examines the horrifyingly detailed account of 
these events which - for the consolation of those who remain 
faithful during the times of which Our Lord has told us that, 
"unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved 
(Matthew 24:22) - was included in Holy Scripture by the decree 
of Divine Providence. Fr. Arminjon speaks fearlessly ,_ and with 
many factual details, of the role of the Jews in ushering in the 
reign of Antichrist by recognizing in him their long-awaited 
messias, and he points to the evidence - often heavily suppressed 
even in the 1880' s, when he was writing - of the activities ot 
many members of that nation which crucified our Divine Saviour; 
activities directed towards the subversion of Church and State, 
according to a programme which in our days has all but come to 
fruition. Finally Fr . Arminjon shows that it will be the death 
of Antichrist by Divine intervention that will lead to the 
conversion of the Jews. 

The Third Conference concerns the resurrection of the dead 
and the General Judgement when all men who have ever lived will 
be assembled for judgement, the dead rising from their tombs and 
their long-corrupted bodies being miraculously restored to them. _. 
Then, every action, good and bad, of every man will be: seen and 
judged publicly prior to the despatch of the wicked to damnation 
and the entry of the just into Heaven. 

It is the fate of the just which is the subject of the Fourth 
Conference, but not what they will experience in Heaven, which is 
the subject of a later Conference. In this Conference are asked 
and answered such fascinating questions as exactly where eternity 
ill be spent by those blessed souls who will have been reunited 
ith their glorified bodies; whether these same blessed souls 
ill be able to visit the earth and the planets and be in contact 
with their friends who have also been saved; how they will be 
able to take advantage of the special qualities of their glorified 
bodies by travelling with the speed of thought and passing through 
solid objects as Our Lord passed through the stone which blocked 
the entrance to His tomb; and so on. 

Purgatory - the sufferings of those souls who die with a debt 

of temporal punishment to be expiated - is the subject of the 

Fifth Conference, and we feel sure that any reader who thinks 

that he already knows something of this topic will learn much 


more from this chapter. Catholic tradition contains much 
information about Purgatory which twentieth century Catholics 
rarely have the opportunity to learn. So vivid is Fr . Armin D on s 
treatment of the subject that the reader will be given the 
strongest incentive to avoid, and do penance for, even the tiniest 
venial sin, and will be forcibly struck with the urgency of his 
compassionate duty to offer prayers and penances for the holy • 
souls who are in Purgatory at present. 

And the Sixth Conference is about Hell. Its location is 
identified and its pains and torments are analysed, not with the 
imaginative representation of a poet or artist, but with the 
exactitude of a true theologian - and we can assure our _ customei s 
that the reality is vastly more horrific than any fictional 
depiction could be, especially as our knowledge of the nature of 
the sufferings of Hell is by no means as vague as some permit 
themselves to think. 

A welcome contrast is provided by the Seventh Conference, which 
describes the bliss of Heaven - or as much of what constitutes 
this bliss as can be grasped by our earth-bound intellects - with 
wonderful clarity. The problem facing anyone who attempts to 
depict Heaven as closely to its reality as possible, is that 
Heaven is so far removed from, so much more desirable _ than , any 
thing we can experience or imagine in this life that it is 
difficult to make it seem desirable at all, and to avoid making 
it appear somewhat insipid. This is a problem which Fr. Arminjon 
triumphantly surmounts. Never, we think we can safely say, w1 ^ 
you read a more thrilling and inspiring description of Heaven than 
his. In his spell-binding prose he fills in every gap and 
straightens and sharpens every edge, presenting a coherent 
picture by which every soul not yet sunk in total depravity 
cannot help being entranced and enthused. 

The same applies no less to the Eighth and Ninth Conferences 
which respectively discuss Christian sacrifice, with special 
reference to the Mass, as the means of our redemption, and 
analyse in depth the great mystery of suffering - at once an object 
of horror and of desire - and the indispensable role that suffeung 
plays in preparing us for future beatitude. If the first two 
Conferences will be the high spots of the book for some, these 
last two will be the high spots for others; for in them Fr 
Arminjon rises to his full stature as both a profound theologian 
and a master of the spiritual life. 

Finally, there is also included a biographical note on 
•Fr. Arminjon and a Preface which sets out in some detail the - 
history of the book and some observations as to its significance, 
with special reference to its effect on St. Theresa of Lisieux, 
the Little Flower. --_.:,-_- 


Table of Contents 


Preface by the Publishers of the English 

Biographical note on Fr. Arminjon. x*- 11 

Foreword by Fr. Arminjon. x:LV 

First Conference . The end of the world. The 
signs which will precede and the cir- 
cumstances which will accompany it. 1 

Second Conference . The persecution of Anti- 

Christ and the conversion of the Jews. -^ 


Third Conference . The resurrection of the 
dead and the General Judgement. 

Fou rth Conference . The location of immortal 

lifi and the state of the glorj.fxed 

bodies after the resurrection. 73 

Fifth Conference . On Purgatory. 95 

Sixth Conference . Eternal punishment and 

destiny of the reprobate. llb 

Seventh Conference . Eternal bliss and the 

supernatural vision of God. i- 3 * 5 

Eighth Conference . The means of redemption: 
Christian sacrifice. 

Nint h Conference . The mystery of suffering 

and its relationship with the future life. lib 



The publishing history of this work, surely one of 
the greatest and most inspiring masterpieces of Catholic 
literature to have been written since the Reformation, is 
sufficiently unusual, and even improbable, to-be worth 
briefly describing. 

First published in 1881, shortly before the author's 
death in 1885, it initially sold well in France, running 
fairly swiftly through three editions. Moreover, in at 
least one instance it was explosively influential and 
effective: as we shall see, if it could ever be said that 
a single book was the making of a great saint, that can be 
said of The End of the Present World in respect of St. 
Theresa of Lisieux. 

In a world not dominated by Satan, such proof of the 
book's ability to inspire to heroic heights of sanctity 
together with its intrinsic merits would be sufficient to 
guarantee that it would be internationally renowned and in 
print in many languages in perpetuity. But we do not live 
in a world not dominated by Satan, and the reality is that 
when the third edition was exhausted the book went out of 
print, not much more than a decade after its first pub- 
lication; and it was not long before the book and its 
author were almost completely unknown in France - outside 
France, as far as we are aware, they had never been known. 

And thus, without doubt to the great contentment of 
Satan, the situation remained for many decades. If the 
quality of the book itself was not sufficient to prevent 
it from resting in oblivion, one would have thought that 
the evidence given in detail in the writings of St. Ther- 
esa as to such a major source of her inspiration might 
have prompted the countless students of her life all over 
the world to give some consideration to this source of 
inspiration - might it not be thought possible, after 
all, that the book could have a comparable effect on 
others as well? - but, far from being discussed and anal- 
ysed, it was about fifty years before any of the saint's 
many biographers went further than to give it more than 
the briefest of passing mentions. 

Evidently Divine providence was not prepared to allow 
The End of the Present World and Fr. Arminjon to remain in 
permanent ^oblivion, however, for in the 1940s a book was 
published called (translated) Introduction to the Spirit - 
uality of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus , and its author, 
Mgr. Andre Combes, who was a learned historian, finally 
did what previous biographers of St. Theresa had unaccount- 
ably failed to do. _ In a passage from which we shall 
shortly be quoting substantial extracts, he paid approp- 
riatelattention to the unmistakable evidence that the 
Little Flower had obligingly left behind for those who 
wished to analyse her life and learn from it and draw the 
obvious deductions from it. 


If what Mgr. Combes wrote had aroused sufficient 
interest in Fr. Arminjon's work for the latter to be 
almost immediately republished, it would not have been 
surprising, but what is. certainly surprising is that it 
had this result, not at.once, but some twenty years later. 
For by" the time it was brought back into print by the 
Office Central de Lisieux in 1964, "Vatican II" was in 
full session and, among the vast majority of those who 
called themselves Catholics, an atmosphere existed which 
was the reverse of favourable to the many blunt truths so 
magnificently spelled out by Fr. Arminjon. - Indeed the 
French publishers themselves imply clearly in their intro- 
duction that they are not completely happy with the book: 
"Whether it contains passages which we would not write 
today, which the author himself would not considerably 
modify [our emphasis added], is another matter... It is 
not a book written in 1964." True it is that The End of 
the Present World was not written in 1964! Nowhere in it 
Is - to be found the non-Catholic "oecumenical", salvation- 
is-not-a-problem mentality that had already taken a firm 
hold at that time and has been growing ever since. 

Scarcely less remarkable than its republication 
during the "Vatican II" era is the fact that the book then 
remained in print for some twenty years, even though the 
publishers evidently found its contents increasingly 
disturbing. But it is out of print now, and if it ever 
oecomes available in France again it will not be with the 
help of the Office Central de Lisieux. "Since the book 
has fallen into the public domain [i.e. is outside the 
copyright period] , we are unable to oppose its publi- 
cation," they wrote to us in response to our request to 
include a translation of their Preface in this edition. 
"But at the same time we do not wish our Preface to be 
reproduced and we therefore refuse you the authorization 
to translate and reproduce it. The Conferences do not 
reflect the ideas of our time... [In particular], certain 
passages on Judaism raised such a furore in France that 
the book, of which stocks are now exhausted, will not be 
republished, anyway by us." (Letter dated 7th November 

It had remained in publication long enough to be 
brought to our attention, however, and long enough to 
enable us to form the opinion that, if God would permit, 
it must be made available to the English-speaking world. 
Even so, there was a very considerable gap between arriv- 
ing at such an opinion and putting it into effect; for at 
today's prices the cost of having a work of this length 
translated would be completely prohibitive to an organ- 
ization as small as ours. 

However, we were soon to receive evidence that God 
not only permitted but wished that The End of the Present 
World be published in English at the present time; for 
Divine Providence introduced us to Mr. Peter McEnerny who 
with great generosity undertook to translate the book free 
of charge, and what you are about to read is the result of 
three years hard work on his part. In our view the trans- 
lation is of a quality fully worthy of the original and we 
should here like to acknowledge, on behalf of ourselves 
and, we feel sure, on the behalf of all those who will be 
reading the book, a very great debt of gratitude to him. 


So much for the publication history of the book up to 
the present day. In relating it we mentioned the work 
Intro duction to the Spirituality of St . Theresa of the 
Child Jesus , "Tn - which the author, Mgr. Andre Combes, 
pTo^TdeT - impelling reasons why The End of the Presen | 
World should be read by those who have a concern for tne 
etern al destiny of their immortal souls, and indeed also 
by those whose present concern in this matter is much less 
than it ought to be; and we indicated that we would be 
reproducing extracts from Mgr. Combes' book. This we now 
doT the (translated) quotations which follow, including 
the notes, being taken from pages 135 to 158 of the second 
edition published in Paris by Librairie Vrin in 1948. 

* * * 

Schooled in the Imitation , little Theresa could 
only strengthen and develop her idea of a life given 
entirely to God, and resolved to taste nothing of 
earthly joys. She found elsewhere the confirmation 
and doctrinal explanations for which she yearned in 
her impatience for the joys of Heaven and her para- 
mount esteem for a life wholly consecrated to divine 
love, in the austerity of the Carmel . 

"At the age of fourteen,- in view of my 
desire for knowledge, God found it necessary to 
add 'an abundance of oil and honey to the purest 
flour.' He gave me to taste that oil and honey 
in the Conferences of Fr. Arminjon on The End of 
the Present World and the Mysteries of the 
• Future~nfe7 Reading this book immersed my soul 
in a happiness which is not of this world; I 
already felt a presentiment of what God holds in 
store for those who love Him; and, seeing those 
eternal rewards, so out of proportion to the 
small sacrifices of this life, I wanted to love, 
to love Jesus passionately, and to give Him a 
thousand marks of tenderness, while I was still 

In writing these lines, St. Theresa of the Child 
Jesus- rendered the historian of her thought a signal 
service. As a~ matter of fact, I do not think that 
any of those who have concerned themselves with 
ascertaining what influences lay behind little 
Theresa Martin sought out that quite forgotten 
author, Fr. Arminjon. This was a mistake, for the 
evidence is explicit, and moreover, most precise. 
Theresa quotes the work which satisfied her desire 
for knowledge, informs us of the impression she felt 
on reading it, and sums up, in a few extremely sugg- 

AutobiographicaL manuscript^ f .47. 

estive words, the benefits which she is certain that 
she gained from it. Nothing could be more important 
for our investigation.* 

Missionary Apostolic, honorary canon of Chambery 
and Aosta, former professor of Sacred Scripture, 
Church History and Sacred Oratory at the major, semin- 
ary of Chambery, and member of the Imperial Academy 
of Savoy, Fr. Arminjon was a highly esteemed preacher 
in great demand, some of whose addresses, panegyrics 
and conferences are listed in the Catalogue of Printed 
Works of the National Library. In 1881, he published, 
through the Librairie de L'Oeuvre de St. Paul, a 
volume entitled End of the Present World and Mysteries 
of the Future Life , containing nine conferences given 
at Chambery Cathedral and, according to a remarkable 
foreword, directed at combatting the "fatal error and 
great evil of our century," which is "the absence of 
the sense of the supernatural, and the profound 
neglect of the future life." Explaining his aim, the 
author added: "Since wise men have found at all times 
that 'for extreme illnesses, extreme treatments are 
most fitting,' it seemed to us that the most effic- 
acious remedy with which confidently to fight against 
the inveterate evil of naturalism, was a lucid, 
clear, and exact exposition, without any diminution, 
of the essential truths dealing with the future life 
and the inevitable termination of human destiny." 

How well such an intention corresponded to 
Theresa's desire, and how illuminating the reader 
herself henceforth becomes in our eyes! 

In fact, it is just as if, having read this 
book, Theresa had decided: "The best remedy - a 
treatise? No, rather a life, a wholly supernatural 
life, always directed entirely towards its eternal 
future." That, at least, is what St. Theresa did, 
and her experience shows how much better her demon- 
stration was than her master's. 

* [Footnote by Mgr . Combes.] No one in France seems to 
me to have thought of following Theresa's example and 
reading Arminjon as she did. Mgr. Laveille (Samte 
Therese de 1 'Enfant Jesus , p. 143) quotes the second part 
of the text which I have just noted, but merely remarks 
that this book "does not appear to have retained among the 
Catholic public the esteem in which she held it." Fr. 
Petitot could write the whole of his most remarkable book 
Sainte Therese de Lisieux , Une Renaissance Spirituelle , 
without mentioning Arminjon, even in section 3 of chapter 
2, The Spiritual Books of St . Theresa (pp. 68-76). Fr. 
Piat~ THistoire d'une Famille , p. 263-264) aptly observes: 
"These conferences mark an important stage in her spirit- 
ual life" and it was he who published, for the first time, 
the lines from Theresa which I quote later ("I copied... 
my heart") but he does not attempt to state their exact 
significance. In his review of the first edition of this 
"Introduction" in the Revue d'Ascetigue et de Mystique 
(no. 89, March 1947, p. 84-85) Fr. M. Olphe-Galliard, S.J., 
pointed out that this very problem had been raised in 
1928, in II Conforto , the magazine of the Camillan Fathers 
of Verona" in a series of articles by Fr. Alghisio Daniale 
del Bon entitled Il_ Paradiso Vis to Altraverso la " Storia 
d'un' Anima". 


Nevertheless, the fact that the author of such a 
book was able to satisfy the appetite of such a 
reader, to immerse her soul in a supernatural happi- 
ness, and to respond to her expectation by teaching 
her authoritatively what God reserves eternally tor 
those who love Him and what a disproportion there is 
between the divine rewards and the sacrifices by 
which they are purchased; the fact that he was 
able in addition to inspire, in a soul already so 
elevated, the will to love Jesus passionately, 
remains, for this all too much forgotten orator, not 
only a title to fame, but also a right to the 
aratitude of all devoted followers of St. Theresa, 
and so of the whole Church. For it was in his com- 
pany that Theresa's life acquired its definitive 
direction; it was to him that she owed the doctrinal 
support which set her mind at ease and developed the 
spontaneous impulse of her heart; and it was her 
acquaintance with his writings which was responsible 
even for some of the features of her style, and her 
tendency to set no limits to her desires. May we 
contribute," said Fr. Armin D on, on 8th May 18 81, 
"towards making Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church 
loved, and inculcate more and more in those who read 
our work this cardinal truth: 'To serve God and keep 
His commandments is the whole of man. 

How this desire was fulfilled! The book must 
have struck Theresa with great force, particularly in 
its seventh conference, "Eternal bliss and the super- 
natural vision of God." As we think of this in- 
fluence, we cannot be unmoved on reading pages such 
as the following: 

"As no mother ever loved her dearest son, 
the Lord loves His predestinate. He is jealous 
of His dignity, and in any competition in dedi- 
cation and generosity He cannot permit Himself 
to be outdone by His creature. Ah, the Lord 
cannot forget that the saints, when they once 
lived on earth, rendered Him complete homage and 
dedicated entirely to Him their rest, their 
rejoicing and their whole being, and would have 
wished to have an inexhaustible supply of Iblood 
in their veins, in order to shed it as a living 
and unfailing pledge of their faith; that they 
would have desired a thousand hearts in their 
breasts in order to consume them in an inextm- 
quishable fervour of love, and to possess a 
thousand bodies, in order to deliver them over 
to martyrdom as victims unceasingly renewed. 
And the grateful God- cries out: 'Now it is My_ 
turn! To the gift which the saints have given 
TSe — of themselves, can I respond otherwise than 
by giving Myself, without measure or restrict- 
ion 7 If I place in their hands the sceptre of 
creation and bathe them in the- torrents of my 
light, that is a great deal." It is going 
further than their hopes and expectations would 

See page xvi. 

VI 1 

ever have aspired; but it is not the utmost en- 
deavour of My Heart. . I owe them more than Para- 
dise, more than the treasures of My knowledge; I 
owe them My life, My nature, My eternal and 
infinite substance. If I bring My servants and 
friends into My house, if I console them and 
make them quiver with joy, pressing them in the 
embrace of My charity, this will quench their 
thirst and their desires superabundantly, and 
more than is necessary for the perfect repose of 
their hearts; but it is not enough for the 
contentment of My divine Heart, for the quench- 
ing and perfect satisfaction of My love. I must 
be the soul of their soul, I must penetrate and 
imbue them in My Divinity, just as fire absorbs 
iron, and I must unite Myself to them in an 
eternal face to face, showing Myself to their 
minds, unclouded and unveiled, without the 
intervention of the senses. My glory must 
illuminate them, exude and shine through all the 
pores of their being, so that, "knowing Me as I 
know them, they may become gods themselves."'* 

To bring that influence to light it was enough 
to assemble Theresa's testimony as found in The Story 
of a Soul and to grant it the importance which it 
deserves. Two of Theresa's unpublished fragments,** 
which I am able to add to these pages, confirm my 
conclusion and render its full significance clear. 

"This book had been lent to Papa by my dear 
Carmelites; so, contrary to my usual practice 
(for I did not read Papa's books), I asked to 
read it. 

"This book was one of the greatest graces 
in my life. I read it at the window of my 
study, and the impression which it made upon me 
is too intimate and sweet for me to express. I 
copied out several passages about perfect love 
and the welcome which God will give His elect 
when He Himself will become their great and 
eternal reward. I kept on saying the loving 
words which had enkindled my heart. All the 
great truths of religion and the mysteries of 
eternity entranced me." 

Here is one of the passages copied out by 
Theresa. Taken from the fifth Conference "On 
Purgatory" (p. 205), it is given as a quotation from 
St. John Chrysostom with no precise reference. 
Theresa had kept it in the Manuel du Chretien , which 
she used at the Carmel. It is still there. 

* See page 142. 

** They are now integrated into The Story of a Soul , and are, 
naturally, to be found in the autobiographical manuscripts. 


"The man who is inflamed with the fire of 
divine love is as indifferent to glory and 
ignominy as if he were alone on earth and un- 
seen. He spurns temptation. He is no more 
troubled by suffering than he would be if it 
were borne in a body other than his own. What 
is full of sweetness for the world has no att- 
raction for him, He is no more liable to be 
ensnared by any attachment to creatures than 
gold, seven times tested, is liable to rust. 
Such are, even on earth, the effects of divine 
love when it takes firm hold of a soul." 

30th May, 18 8 7.* 

We also know that, while at the Carmel, Theresa 
advised her sister Celine to have a person whose 
faith was shaken read the Conferences of Fr. Armin- 
jon.** We can appreciate this reliance even better 
when we meet Theresa and Celine at the Belvedere. 
For the present, here is a clarification of a sing- 
ular, historical misunderstanding. Not long ago, a 
biographer, who sought to be incisive and candid, 
diagnosed an immense pride in Theresa of Lisieux, for 
the conclusive reason that she "ended up writing - 
and this caps everything else - 'He (God) knows that 
it is the only way to prepare us to know Him as He 
knows Himself, and to become gods ourselves . ' "*** 

A strange objectivity, which takes scandal out 
of ignorance! In the first place, it is not correct 
to say that Theresa ended up_ in this folly: that is 
how she began. The phrase for which she is reproved 
Theresa really did write, and underline, in her third 
letter to Celine, 23rd July 1888.**** 

However, in writing this phrase, the young 
Carmelite simply proves that she was still under the 
spell of what she was reading, before leaving the 
world; and what delighted her in the writings of Fr. 
Arminjon was the most authentic echo of Scripture and 
Tradition. To grasp the psychology of the saints, no 
sympathy can suffice that does not take care to 
discover the actual doctrine by which they live. 

* Carmel of Lisieux Documentation. Theresa herself _dated 
her copy. 

** Cf. Letter CVI to Celine, 3rd April 1891. 

*** Sainte Therese de Lisieux by Lucie Delarue-Mardrus : p. 93 

**** Cf. The Story of a Soul, p. 318, date corrected by Carmel 
of Lisieux Documentation. 


In the next extract Mgr. Combes sets out the 
precious confidential details which Celine (Sister _ 
Genevieve of the Holy Face) related about what she 
called the "Belvedere conversations," that is, the 
conversations which the two sisters, _Theresa and 
Celine, had around Pentecost, 1887, as together they 
read The End of the Present World , on the balcony of 
the upper "room (the Belvedere) at the "Buissonnets . 

"It seems to me," said Theresa in The Story 
of a Soul , "that we received very great graces. 
As the Imitation says, God at times communicates 
Himself amidst brilliant splendour; at other 
times, softly veiled in shadows or figures. 
Thus did He condescend to show Himself to our 
hearts; but how transparent and light that veil 
was! Doubt would have been impossible; faith 
and hope departed from our souls, as love made 
us find on earth Him whom we had been seeking. 

The value of such a disclosure can hardly be 
exaggerated. What credence should be accorded to it? 

When asked how accurate it was, the other actress 
in these scenes from Earth and Heaven, Celine, or 
rather, the venerable Sister Genevieve of the Holy 
Face, was pleased to declare the following: 

"Those conversations at the Belvedere left 
such a profound and clear memory in me that I 
remember them as if it were yesterday. What 
Theresa wrote about them in The Story of a Soul 
not only does not appear exaggerated, but seems 
rather an understatement. We really did live 
through hours of heavenly consolation. What 
words could describe them? Often we would begin 
by repeating, with unimaginable fervour, the 
words of St. John of the Cross: 'Lord! To suffer 
and be despised for you.' Yes, to this we 
aspired with all our strength. Then we would 
think of Heaven, and repeat to one another the 
words of Fr. Arminjon: 'And the grateful God 
calls out: Now it is My turn.'* Then, as it 
were, we left the earth for eternal life. As 
our saint wrote, faith and hope disappeared, and 
we possessed God in love. After so many years, 
I can declare that it was not a flash in the pan 
or a passing enthusiasm, but an irresistible 
impulse towards God. It seems to me that we 
were no longer in this world. It was ecstasy. 

In explanation of this term, which seemed to her 
the only one capable of expressing such a state, 
Sister Genevieve added: 

"This ecstasy did not leave us unconcious , 
nor raise us above the ground. I can still see 
Theresa clasping my hands, I can see her lovely 
eyes filled with tears. It was the ecstasy of 
St. Augustine and St. Monica at Ostia."** 

"What a rewarding text for a historian." [Footnote by Mgr. 

Carinel of Lisieux Documentation. 

Such was, moreover, the opinion of Theresa 
herself. Here is what I have just learnt that she 
observed, on this point, in her unpublished rem- 

"I do not know whether I am mistaken, but 
it seems to me that the outpouring of our souls 
was like that of St. Monica with her son at the 
port of Ostia, when they were lost in ecstasy at 
the sight of the wonders of the Creator. I 
think that we received graces 'of as high an 
order as those granted to the great saints.' 

Such an impression, in a soul so humble, such a 
convergence of testimony, permit of no doubt in the 
mind of the historian. Theresa - and her sister, for 
Theresa's solitary life began only at the Carmel - 
received, at the Belvedere, unitive graces binding 
her to God by sensible love which, whatever system of 
spiritual theology one professes, seem fully to 
deserve the name of "mystical" and which, in 
Theresa's interior journey, assume the character of 
pathos and form ' around it, as it were, a fiery re- 
flection. The faith and hope of these two children 
having reached their climax, their charity grows to 
such an extent that it almost brings about in their 
souls the elimination of self which is its character- 
istic, and which opens the way to. the Beatific Vision. 
Superseding, by its very intensity, all obscure 
perceptions and hidden desires - an act of possession 
so immediate, so complete and captivating that it 
compels recognition as a manifestation of God, 
present and Himself vouching for His presence - it 
leaves practically no room for those earthly virtues 
of hope and faith. " 

In the last extract from his book that we are reproducing 
Mgr. Combes first notes that in July 1889 Theresa wrote to 

"It is a great martyrdom to love Jesus, 
without feeling the sweetness of that love, it 
is a martyrdom... Well, let us die martyrs... 
Oh, Celine., .gentle echo of my soul, do you 
understand?... Unseen martyrdom, known to God 
above, which the creature's eye cannot discover, 
martyrdom without honour or . triumph. . . That is 
love carried through to heroism. But, one day, 
God will gratefully exclaim: 'Now, it is My 

It would have been impossible for her to have 
anticipated her historian with greater generosity and 
kindness! So Theresa took the trouble of writing 
down at least once the phrase which she- had read 
enthusiastically from Fr. Arminjon's pen, as a guaran- 

Letter LXXII to Celine, 14th July 1889, 


tee to us that, at a certain time ,__ she really did 

make it the guiding theme of her interior life, the 

foundation of. her hope and "the- stimulus for all her 
sacrifices."*^ - _ ~~_ _~ 

(End of extracts-"f roar Introduction to the Spirituality of 
St . Theresa of the Child Jesus by Mgr. A. Combes.) 

It was those passages by Mgr. Coombes - according to 
the Foreword to the French- edition which we were refused 
permission to translate and reproduce - which decided the 
Office Central de Lisieux to republish the book.** We 
suggest that they should be sufficient to persuade any 
reader to take the book with the utmost seriousness. 

We must now say a few words on the editing policy we 
have adopted with this book.^ _ _ 

It is our belief that a publisher's overriding aim 
with a work such as this should be fidelity to the orig- 
inal and in particular we have been determined not to 
abridge it in any way, despite the pressures of cost in 
reproducing it in full and the reluctance of many people 
today to read a book of any significant length. Occasion- 
ally, however, difficulties arose from the fact that The 
End of the Present World , although a masterpiece, is not 
iHtifeiy - without flaws. In one or two passages, for 
instance, Fr. Arminjon allows himself to be beguiled into 
giving, quite unnecessarily for his purpose, summaries of 
hypotheses advanced by scientists of the nineteenth cent- 
ury, as in our own century, in the guise of accepted 
scientific facts, and into presenting them as though they 
were scientific facts; sometimes his Scriptural quotations 
a7i~not completely accurate; and once or twice even clear 
theological errors occur. The "scientific" passages we 
were tempted to omit completely; but we decided that the 
integrity of the translation as a translation must take 
precedence over the elimination of errors of this kind, 
and we therefore restricted ourselves to drawing attention 
to them in footnotes. In the case of one error in theology, 

* [Footnote by Mgr. Combes] A year before this letter, 
Theresa had already written to Celine, on 2 3rd July 18 88, 
a year after the Belvedere conversations: "He is not far 
away. He who watches, He who begs this sorrow and agony 
of us, is close at hand. He needs it for souls, for our 
souls. He. wants to give us such a beautiful reward! His 
ambitions for us are so great, but how will He be able to 
say My Turn, if our turn has not come, if we have not 
given Him anything?" 

** In the same Foreword the French publishers draw attention 
to a coincidence of dates which gives unmistakable indication 
of the book's electrifying effect on St. Theresa. The book was 
lent to her by her father in May 188 7 and it was on 29th of May 
in the same year that she obtained her father's consent to 
enter the Carmelite convent in Lisieux at the age of fifteen. 



Dear Reader, 

It has seemed to us that one of the -"^t melancholy 
fruits of rationalism, the fatal error and great plague ol 
Sis century, the pestilential source whence our revo- 
lutions and social disasters arise, is the absence of the 
sense of the supernatural and the profound neglect of the 
area? truths of the future life. "With desolation shall 
t£e earth be laid waste," because the majority of men, 
fascinated by the lure of fleeting pleasures, and absorbed 
In their worldly interests and the care of their material 
affair^ no longer fix their thoughts on the great prin- 
ciples of tne Faith, and stubbornly refuse to retire 
wiSin themselves. It may be said of our present gener- 
ation what the prophet Daniel said, in his time, or tne 
So old men of Babylon: "They perverted their own mind and 
turned away their eyes that they might not look unto 
Heaven nor remember just judgements. UJ 

The two causes of this terrifying indifference and 
profound, universal lethargy are, obviously, ignorance and 
?ne unrestrained love of sensual pleasures which by 
darkening the interior eye of the human soul , br xng jU 
its aspirations down to the narrow level of *he present 
life, and cut it off from the vision of the beauties arid 
rewards to come. Now, since wise men have found at all 
times that, "for extreme illnesses, extreme treatments are 
most fitting," it seemed to us that the most efficacious 
Remedy with which to fight confidently against the 
Inveterate evil of naturalism was a lucid, dear and exact 
exposition, without diminution, of the essential truths 
dealing with the future life and the inevitable termin- 
ation of human destiny. 

Perhaps we shall be accused of expressing this or 
that assertion of ours too crudely and starkly, and of 
broaching the most serious and formidable points of 
Christian doctrine, without, at the s ame time, modifying 
and softening them so .as to adapt them to the J"Dudices 
or apathy of certain souls, unacquainted with such grave 
considerations - like a physician "ho carefully allows 
only a limited amount of light to a sick friend, in order 
not to hurt his painful eyes by excessive glare. However 
in the religious and supernatural order the phenomena and 
effets wrought upon the soul are often the reverse of 
those which occur in the physical and niatjrxal or e. n 
the visible world, an excessive amount of light dazzles. 
it leads to dimness of vision and causes bl^e". On 
the other hand, as soon as the mind enters the i^lect 
ual realm, and is transported into the vast sphere of 
invisible and uncreated matter, excess is no longer to-be 
felred. Jesus Christ is the great luminary of our in- 
tellects, the -food and Ufe of our hearts: He is never 

[1] Daniel 13:9. 


Getter understood, or more loved, than when He manifests 
Himself liberally in the integrity of His doctrine and the 
supereminent splendours of His divine personality. The 
example of the Apostles, announcing the Gospel amidst the 
twilight of paganism, and boldly preaching "Jesus Christ 
crucified" before the Roman Senate and amidst the phil- 
osophers of the Areopagus, is enough to tell us that truth 
is attractive to souls naturally Christian , and that it 
enlightens and convinces them only insofar as it is present- 
ed- to them in all its strength and all its clarity. Our 
trial is limited in its duration to the period of the 
present life. If, as the rationalists maintain, this life 
is only a link in the chain of our destiny, and if the 
course of time wherein man is subject to strife, tempt- 
ation and the blandishments of the senses and of creatures 
should continue indefinitely, then Jesus Christ will never 
be king, virtue brings no hope, and evil will remain 
eternally triumphant. Thus it is quite certain that the 
scene which is being played here below will, sooner or 
later, reach its climax and end. Mankind will then enter 
upon a new phase of existence, and all that we cherish, 
all that we search after in this present life, will be 
less than a shadow, sheer inanity. This is a certain 
fact, which all our discoveries and the marvels of our 
genius will not be able to set aside. Now the moral value 
of life is determined by the end to which it tends, just 
as the utility of a road is estimated by the traveller 
only insofar as it helps to bring him more surely and 
directly to the final point of the journey he has under- 
taken. Accordingly, to deal with the future life and the 
last ends is really to expound the science and philosophy 
of human life, setting out the fundamental principles on 
which the whole of perfection and morality is based. 

The volume of our conferences which we are publishing 
is a continuation of the one which we brought out, three 
years ago, on the Reign of God . The reign of God is 
inaugurated, grows and comes to its completion in the 
course of time; it will not be perfect and consummated 
until the age to come. So, instead of giving our book the 
title End of the Present World and Mysteries of the Future 
Life , we could, with equal justice, have called it The 
Triumph of Jesus Christ and His Church in the Future Life . 

Our arguments and maxims on the vanity of the "figure 
of this passing world," the futility of all undertakings 
conceived outside the perspective of the Faith and not 
having the final end as their aim, the irremediable mis- 
fortune reserved for the wicked, and our other subjects - 
the advent and reign of Antichrist and the temple of 
immortality, the rewards destined for the just, the restor- 
ation of fallen man through the law of sacrifice and the 
purifying crucible of suffering - seemed useful to us in 
order to shed the salve of consolation upon wounded and 
embittered hearts, to lift up disheartened and dejected 
souls and, in the calamitous and troubled days through 
which we are living, to help Christians become men of 
"Sursum", by inspiring them with resignation and patience; 
in order, furthermore, to strengthen them amidst the 
present sorrows, by raising up their hopes and desires 
towards a better fatherland. 


By drawing upon the pure founts of Tradition and the 
Fathers and instructing ourselves by the light of Holy 
Scripture, we have sought to satisfy the anxious and 
troubled souls of our time, and to offer them the true 
solution to the mysteries of life as taught to us by 
Christianity. May we contribute to making Jesus Christ 
and His Church loved, and to inculcating more and more in 
those who read our work this cardinal truth: "To serve God 
and keep His commandments is the whole of man! " 


Feast of the Apparition of St. Michael 
the Archangel, 8th May 1881. 




The end of the world. - The signs 
which will precede and the 
circumstances which will a ccompany it. 

Veniet dies Domini sicut fur, in quo 
coeli magno impetu transient. 

But the day of the Lord shall come 

as a thief, in which the heavens shall 

pass away with great violence. (1 Peter 3:10) 

Saint Paul teaches us that the present world is an 
immense laboratory where all nature is in ferment and 
labour until the day when, freed from all bondage and 
corruption, it will blossom out into a radiant and renewed 
order. [1] 

Man himself, in his course here below, is no more 
than a traveller, filing across the fluctuating, .temp- 
estuous sea of time, and the earth which bears hun is but 
the boat destined to guide him towards the land of -™ 
mortal and unending life. 


Nations, too, like individuals, are destined one day 
to disappear. 

The story of mankind would be no more than an in- 
explicable drama, a series of confused, aimless, isolated 
facts, if, sooner or later, it did not have its appointed 
time and climax. In the present natural order, everything 
with a beginning is destined to end; a continuous chain must 
have a link at both ends, not just one. The present 
world, precisely because it was created, necessarily tends 
towards its conclusion and end. 

How will that great transformation be effected? What 
will be the conditions and the new form of our earth when, 
after it has been destroyed and completely transfigured by 
fire it will no longer be watered by the sweat of man, 
and has ceased to be the troubled, blood-stained arena of 
our strife and passions? We shall speak of this 

In this first talk, our aim will be to recall the 
testimony of Holy Scripture and, particularly, that of 

[1] Romans 8:21,22. 


""1 ' If "S&i*..""^ "SVIrae^f "SSV o^arS 


ing era 

and repose. 

As we broach this delicate and difficult subject, one 
° f th ^° S \^rrio^ S rpon^the^JrefenranTfuSre 
SSumstlnce^ <£ ^ountr, , Jnd our J, **!£■. xt -e«s 
right to us to point out that we shall steer 
every perilous opinion, relying neltner "^ m .,i..j na no 
TeJeLtLns nor ^^f ^^s ^.^ ™ 

SUSnUf^o "p.'SdtSS' S"th. "authentic teachin, of 
the Fathers and of tradition. 

In the first four conferences we shall recall in 

tne e«u « n _ tnrp of tne persecution by this man ot sin 
rnnoLc^ Sft^e %&** ^ the ^^ Ae'tL^r' 

rr s n ta„c°e f s th oi ^^-Krrs !« 

what will be the place of immortal life and tne 
the world after the resurrection. 

To-dav in our commentary on Sacred Scripture, and, 

si'3; suss as. s^sjss isssa.." 

in harmony with the facts of present-day 

,, M _., w ^ deduce from the words of Christ 
Secondly: May^we deduce^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ or 


Thirdly By what means will this final cataclysm, 

Thirdly. t Y. s great crQWning chan ge, come about? 

t« fh P face of these formidable problems which defy 

th e AVt h a„ fTtas? of =m --^-^; S£.£~ £ 
hesitant, and can only stammer. way yo . ± f God 

en^h^r SnS^r Plaoi 2 n our* ! adores of truth. 

strength, wisdom and discretionl 

The materialistic, atheistic -science of °£ ^ nt £^ 
world can have an end. According to this false scienc , 

* Note by the publishers of the English edition." appears 

that this ••conference" or lecture was ^ origi ^^Z?^™ 
the last Sunday after Pentecost when the Gospel 

94-1 S-35. 

the present universe will always subsist or, if it becomes 
progressively better, this will be solely through the 
effect of man's genius, the increasing impulse given to 
the arts and industrial achievements, the varied combin- 
ation and play of _ fluids and elements, decomposing and 
reconstituting themselves Jtq give birth to new forms - in 
short, -by the application- and activation of the innumer- 
- able ""and still unknown forces which nature conceals in her 
bosom; farces which, by themselves, are capable of surging 
forward into limitless and indefinite growth; and, just as 
the worm, in perfecting itself, . turned into a quadruped, 
from quadruped to two-footed creature, from two-footed 
creature to man, in the same way, man, with the aid of 
science, _ will one day attain the pinnacle of his sover- 
eignty. He will conquer time and space, make himself 
wings in order to propel himself towards the stars, and 
explore the wonders of the constellations. In the eyes of 
atheistic science, paradise and eternal life, as conceived 
by Christians, are an allegory and a myth. Progress is 
the last end, the law and foundation of the life of man, 
the final point and aim where all his thoughts and aspir- 
ations should converge. Let man courageously cast aside 
the bonds and darkness of superstition and of oppressive 
outdated beliefs, let him have faith in himself alone, 
and, in a more or less proximate future, he will be in- 
vested with an unlimited, unrestrained kingship over the 
elements and creation. Nature, completely subdued by his 
genius, will then open like the horn of plenty upon a new 
humanity, pouring forth the fullness of desirable goods; 
and if the present generations fail to attain this ideal 
of bliss, they may take comfort from the prospect that it 
will be the attribute of some more distant descendants, 
and all the more glorious for these, in that they will 
have acquired them independently, and without the assist- 
ance of God, and "will be solely the result of their own 
perseverance, efforts and ingenuity. 

Need I say that these fantasies, these crass, non- 
sensical theories, are contradicted by reason and the 
common assent of all nations? 

They are contradicted by Christian reason. If, in 
fact, as our Christian' faith and conviction tell us, 
temporal life had its principle and beginning in God, it 
must also have in God its consummation and destiny. Man 
was created to know, love and serve God; and, if he did 
not succeed one day in possessing Him and being irrevoc- 
ably united with Him, the Creator's plan, devoid of any 
rational end, would be no more^ than a strange aberration. 
Mankind, thwarted in its love, its tendencies and aspir- 
ations, would become another Sisyphus, or a sort of rou- 
lette ball, dancing in the air and condemned to spin 
forever on the wheel of fate's blind necessity. What 
place would there be for justice, morality, the security 
of families and of public authority, in a system where 
everything" was in a state of disorder and contradiction, 
where the ideal never became reality, good was never 
separated from evil, and no standard existed by which to 
decide the importance of moral living and the true sanct- 
ion of human acts? 

"History," a sceptical author of our time has said, 
"is the judge of peoples, and her judgement, which con- 
tinues throughout the ages, renders the Last Judgement 
pointless and superfluous." 

Our reply will be that the judgement of history is 
not a public judgement, whereas the evil is public and 
rises up with an arrogance which is a scandal to men and a 
constant outrage against God. The judgement of history 
remains incomplete, because every qood or bad act is a 

mainspring of good or evil, a seed of life or death, all 
the fruits and results of which its author could neither 
feel nor foresee. That is why, if the universal judgement 
had not been foretold to us, it would be our duty to 
demand it, to insist on it as a necessary consequence, as 
the final enactment of that divine Providence which guides 
the movement of history throughout the ages, and as a 
final measure to complete His work and place His seal on 

This universal judgement is but the last scene of the 
universal drama: the general fulfilment of all the partial 
judgements emanating from God's justice. It is only on 
this understanding that history becomes _ clear and com- 
prehensible, that we shall see it, not as the confused 
mind and eyes of man imagine it to be, but as it really 
is, like a book open to every eye. [3] 

A great orator of our time has said: "History is not 
over, it will begin in the valley of Josaphat. " 

Christian reason and the common assent of all nations 
thus bear witness that the world must end and that there 
will be a new order. This truth is also in conformity 
with science and observed facts. 

It is a recognized principle, and a general law of 
nature, that everything which is subject to movement or 
decomposition, everything consumed by time or limited in 
extent, is liable to wear out and age, and, in the end, 
disappears and perishes. Science teaches us that no vital 
force, or created agent, has the power to deploy its 
energy beyond a limited duration, and that, by virtue of 
the creative law, the field of its activity is restricted 
within a given.-, sphere, the boundary of which cannot be 
crossed. The most perfect and soundly-built organisms 
could not be made to function indefinitely. 

Not only living beings, such as animals and plants, 
but even minerals, are subject to opposing forces of 
affinity or repulsion, and tend continuously to separate 
in order to form new groupings. Thus, the hardest rocks 
and granite undergo corrosion and weathering which, sooner 
or later, will bring them tumbling down. Stars are seen to 
extinguish and vanish in the firmament. Every movement, 
even that of the heavens, tends to become slower. Eminent 
astronomers have detected, in the sun and the stars, 
losses of heat and light, admittedly imperceptible, which 
nevertheless will not fail, after the passage of many 
centuries, to have a disastrous effect on our climate and 
seasons. Be that as it may, it is certain that our earth 
no longer possesses the same fecundity or vegetative 
strength which it had in the. first ages of the human race. 
Just as the world had its youth, so there will come a time 
when the world will have its twilight, when it will hasten 
towards its evening anddecline. 

These are truths of observation and common sense 
which reason grasps easily, but Christianity alone has 
succeeded in demonstrating their certainty and excellence. 
"It is in this, respect; " a Protestant thinker has said, 
"that Christian doctrine is quite' distinct from philo- 
sophic doctrines. It affirms that a new existence awaits 
man after this life. An absolute requirement for the 
fulfilment of that existence is that nature, which has 
become obscure and impenetrable to man, should be ex- 
plained and clarified in some future state, which will 
prove the* harmony between visible and invisible things, 

[3] Hettinger: Apologie du Christianisme , vol.4, ch.16. 

the transient and the everlasting, matter and spirit. 
"Only in that future, only with such an end to human 
existence, can the conscience of man find repose. For 
-this hope we are indebted to Christ, whose promise permits 
us to expect, after the final crisis, a new earth and new 
heavens. " [4] 

~ So, the world will have an end; but is this end 
remote or near? That is a serious, exciting' question, no 
less worthy of reflection by Christian souls. 

Holy Scripture "on this point does not leave us com- 
pletely in the dark. Certainly, speaking- of the exact 
date, Jesus Christ says: "But of that day and hour no one 
knoweth; no, not the angels of heaven, but the Father 
alone." On the other hand, He consented to give definite 
signs and indications, intended to let us know that the 
fulfilment of the prophecies is close, and that the world 
is nearing its end. 

Jesus Christ has proceeded, in respect of mankind 
considered as a whole, in the same way as with individ- 
uals: thus, our death is certain, but the hour is unknown 
to us. None of us can say whether he will be living a 
week or a day from now, and I who am speaking to you do 
not know whether I shall complete the talk which I have 
begun. But, if we can be taken by surprise at any time, 
there are, nevertheless, signs which attest that our final 
hour is imminent, and that we should be labouring under a 
crass illusion if we imagined that we had a long stretch 
of life still awaited here below. 

Our Lord tells us: "From the fig-tree learn a par- 
able: When the branch thereof is now tender and the leaves 
come forth, you know that the summer is nigh. So you 
also, when you shall see all these things (wars, famines, 
earthquakes), know ye . - that it is nigh, even at the 
doors." [5] 

As a matter of fact, these public calamities and 
disturbances, and the alterations in the elements and in 
the normal course of the seasons, which will mark the 
final coming of the Son of God, are vague, indefinite 
signs... They have appeared, with greater or lesser 
intensity, in every ill-fated period of human history, and 
in all periods of crisis and religious disorder. 

At the time of the Machabees, signs were already seen 
in the sky. For forty days, the whole city of Jerusalem 
observed men on horseback in the air, clad in gold brocade 
and armed with lances, like cavalry units. The horses, 
drawn up in squadrons, charged one another. The men 
seemed to be armed with javelins and drawn swords; their 
weapons were made of gold, and their helmets and breast- 
plates were dazzling. The terror-stricken people prayed 
fervently to God, in order that these omens might turn to 
their deliverance, and not to their confusion and ruin. [6] 

During the siege of Jerusalem, under Titus, the Holy 
of Holies and the Temple were shaken by mysterious move- 
ments; strange noises were heard coming from them, and 
voices from invisible beings cried out: "Let us depart 
hence, let us depart hence." A Grand Rabbi, dumbfounded 
by these terrifying, supernatural manifestations, ex- 

[4] Schelling: Philosophie de la. Revelation , vol.2, p. 222. 
[5] Matthew 24:32,33. 

claimed: "0 Temple, why are you troubled, and why do you 
friqhten yourself?" Accordingly, in order not to give 
rise to any misunderstanding or any false interpretation, 
Christ tells us that the afflictions and prodigies of 
nature, which will mark the latter ages of mankind, are 
only the prelude and beginning of still greater sorrows: 
Haec autem omnia initia sunt dolorum. [7] 

Thus, no firm conclusion can be drawn from the 
present disasters and revolutions, or the great religious 
or social cataclysms of which Europe and the world are 
currently the scene, regarding the end of the times. 

The signs to-day are the same signs which occurred in 
ancient times, and experience shows that they are in 
sufficient to prove the proximity of the judgement. 

Nevertheless, it is worth bearing in mind that 
Christ, in His prophecy (Matthew 24), mingles together in 
a single scene the signs relating to the end of the world 
and those relating to the destruction of Jerusalem. He 
does so, first, because of the analogy between the two 
events... Secondly, because in God there is no- distinction 
or succession in time. The impending events and those 
more remote are clearly present to His mind, and He sees 
them as if they had occurred at the same moment. .. More- 
over, Our Lord Jesus Christ knew that the Apostles, before 
they were enlightened by the Holy Ghost, were imbued with 
illusions and all the Jewish prejudices; m their eyes, 
Jerusalem was the whole universe, and its ruin meant, for 
them, the collapse of the world. As a result of this 
narrow, exaggerated patriotism which dominated them, the 
Apostles continued in their vigilant and unceasing antici- 
pation until the ruin of Jerusalem. Such were- the dispos- 
itions which Christ endeavoured to arouse, seeking to 
instruct them, and lead them away from gross earthly 
hopes, rather than excite their curiosity by disclosing to 
them the hidden secrets of the future. 

Hence, in His prophecy, He shows them, as it were, 
two perspectives and two horizons, having analogous ^fea- 
tures and alike in relief, pattern and colouring. In Saint 
Matthew and Saint Mark, the two events - the destruction 
of Jerusalem and the end of the world - seem rather to be 
merqed. In Saint Luke, the two occurrences are very 
clearly distinguished: there are features which refer 
solely to the end of the world, such as these: 

"And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon 
and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, 
by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and 
of the waves; men withering away for fear and expectation 
of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers 
of heaven shall be moved. And then they shall see the Son 
of man coming in 'a cloud, with great power and majes- 
ty. "[8] - 

Will the world last another hundred years? Will it 
end with our present millennium? Will mankind, under the 
Christian law of grace, go through a span of years corres- 
ponding to the period passed under the^Law of nature or 
the Mosaic law? These are questions uponjtfhich no hypo- 

[7] Matthew 24:8. 
[8] Luke 21:25-27. 


thesis or conjecture may be ventured. All the calcu- 
lations- and enquiries in which learned interpreters have 
indulged are idle quests, lacking any purpose other than 
the satisfaction of vain curiosity. Provld H en " f ha n S n °^ 
dained that this day should not be known, and that nobody 
shall -succeedHin discovering it untilit actually arrives: : , 
"De die ilia ftemo scit."[9] - 

And let^no one object that, if we cannot assign the 
day, we can at least determine the period or the year. 
No; for St. Augustine remarks that the word "day 1 , in Holy 
Scripture, is to be understood in the sense of any length 
of time. The testimony of the holy .Doctor concurs with - 
that of the Prophet Malachias, who tells us: Ecce venit, 
dicit Dominus exercituum: Et quis potent cogitare diem 
adventus ejus?" [10] Zacharias is still more precise and 
explicit: "Et erit in die ilia: non erit lux, sed frigus 
et gelu, et erit dies una, quae nota est Domino, non dies 
neque nox: et in tempore vesperi erit lux. [11] 

The reason is that the end of the world will not 
simply be the effect of some natural cause, but depends 
above all on' the will of God, which has- not been revealed 

tO US. ' ""; : 'C" " 

It is of faith that human destinies will be brought 
to a close, -when the measure of saints shall have been 
filled up, and the number of the elect consummated. Now 
no man, whether from reasons which are certain, or even on 
the strength of probable conjecture, can know the number 
of the predestinate, still less the time which will elapse 
before this.. number is complete. Who, for example, would 
dare to assert whether more or fewer men will be saved in 
the centuries to come than were saved in the preceding 
centuries? / And irrespective of whether the number of 
future saints is greater or less than the number of P ast 
saints, how is it possible to predict the length of time 
in which their number will be consummated? Is it not an 
established fact, in the life of the Church that there are 
periods of sterility when saints are rare, and periods o± 
fecundity when they abound? That is why, considering the 
original cause of the world, which is none other than the 
hidden mystery of predestination, no one can conclude 
whether the end of the world is near or distant. U^J 

[9] Matthew 24:36. 

[10] Malachias 3:1,2. 

[11] Zacharias 14:6,7. 

fl21 St. Augustine teaches that the angels know the number of 
Predestinate: but i-t does not follow that they know how long 
the world will last, as they cannot know in what space of time 
the number of the predestinate will be complete. Elsewhere, he 
qualifies this opinion by saying that the angels do not know 
absolutely the number of the predestinate, but simply how many 
elect are needed to fill the ranks left empty by the fall of 
the bad angels. Now, men are not raised to the state of bliss 
solely in order to replace the fallen angels, but in accordance 
with a plan and. an intention antecedent to the fall o£ tne 
angels; from which it follows that there may be more men saved 
than angels fallen. (Suarez: vol. XIX, p.l022.| 

However, if Christ teaches us that this final great 
day is a secret which God, in the designs of His 
sovereignty, has kept to Himself, "tempora et momenta quae 
Pater posuit in sua potestate," and which will defy all 
our calculations until the very hour of its fulfilment, 
nevertheless, in order to forearm us against negligence 
and a false sense of security, He unceasingly reminds men: 
first, that the end of the world is certain; secondly, 
that it is relatively proximate; thirdly, that it will not 
occur until there have come to pass, not ordinary, habit- 
ual signs, such as have happened at all times, but the 
particular, distinctive signs which He has clearly 
indicated to us. These signs are not just calamities and 
revolutions in the stars, but events of a public char- 
acter, pertaining to both the religious and the social 
order, which mankind cannot fail to perceive. 


The first of the events foreshadowing the end of the 
times is the one to which the Saviour refers in Matthew 24 
when He says: "And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be 
preached in the whole world for a testimony to all 
nations; and then shall the consummation come." The 
second of these signs will be the appearance of the man of 
sin, the Antichrist. [13] The third: the conversion of the 
Jewish people, who will adore the Lord Jesus and recognize 
Him as the promised Messias. [14] Until then, says St. 
Paul, "...let no man deceive you by any means... as if the 
day of the Lord were at hand." [15] 

It is evident that the last two events, which St. 
Paul declares are to mark the approach of the great 
tribulation, have not so far been fulfilled. Antichrist 
has not yet appeared, as we shall show in the next dis- 
course. The Jews, as a nation, have not yet cast off the 
thick veil which prevents them from acclaiming as God Him 
Whom they crucified. It remains to be ascertained 
whether, at the present time, the Gospel has been preached 
all over the earth, and given for a testimony to the 
totality of nations. 

On this point the Fathers and Doctors are divided. 
Some say that the words of Christ are to be interpreted 
morally, and should be understood in the sense of a 
partial, summary preaching: for them to be fulfilled, it 
is enough that missionaries should have enlightened a 
certain number of individual minds in the various parts of 
the inhabited earth, and that, on each deserted and remote 
hill-side, the Cross should have been raised at least 
once. Others,^ more numerous, like St. Jerome and Bede, 
insist that the words of the Son of God should be 
understood in the strictest and most literal sense. 

[13] 2 Thessalonians 2:2,3,4, 
[14] Romans 11: 14, 15,1.6, 17. 
[15] 2 Thessalonians 2:2. 


Cornelius a Lapide, the most learned of the inter- 
preters of the Sacred Books, expresses the opinion that 
the end of the times will not come until Christianity has 
been not only proclaimed and propagated, but established 
and organized, and has subsisted at the level of a public 
institution, among men of every race and nationality: in 
such a way that, before the centuries have run their 
course, there will not be a single barbarian shore* not 
one island lost in the ocean or any place, at present 
unknown, in the two hemispheres, where the Gospel has not 
shone in all its splendour, where the Church has not made 
herself manifest in her legislation, her solemnities and 
hierarchy, including the bishops and lower clergy - in a 
word, where the great prophecy "There will be one fold and 
one shepherd" has not been completely fulfilled. [16] 

We incline to this latter opinion. It is more in 
harmony with the testimony of Holy Scripture. It is more 
in accord with the wisdom and mercy of God, who makes no 
distinction between the civilized and the barbarian, 
Greeks and Jews, but, desiring the salvation of all men, 
does not exclude any of them from the light and gift of 
the Redemption. Finally, it accords better with the ways 
of Providence, which shows an equal solicitude for all 
peoples, and calls them in turn to the knowledge of its 
law, in the time appointed by its immutable decrees. 

One need only glance at a map to recognize that the 
Gospel law is far from having been promulgated to all 
peoples, and that innumerable multitudes at the present 
time remain sunk in darkness, and do not possess the 
slightest shadow of revealed truth. 

Thus, Central Asia and the mountains of Tibet have so 
far defied the endeavours of our most intrepid mission- 
aries. No one has yet been able to give us an exact 
account of the social and religious customs of the peoples 
of Equatorial Africa, in spite of the recent discovery of 
great lakes and high table-land where, formerly, there was 
held to be nothing but sand and desert. Britain and other 
nations have established colonial outposts on the shores 
of the South Sea islands, but the interior of these vast 
continents has yet to be explored. 

Clearly, the Gospel has not yet been preached as a 
testimony to all nations! Can we even say that it has 
teen preached with sufficient lustre, and in such a way as 
to leave with no excuse those who, over the greater part 
of the earth, in all the provinces of India and China and 
in most of the archipelagoes, have refused to obey it? 
What would be the effect of twenty, a hundred or, if you 
wish, a thousand priests, in evangelizing a country like 
France, implanting knowledge of our divine mysteries and 
stirring up the fire of charity? China alone, in view of 
its immense population, is far removed from the comparison 
we have just made. Among the three hundred and forty 
million inhabitants of this vast empire, the greater 
number either have never heard of our religion, or have 
only a vague, incomplete idea of it: they live and die 
without ever having met a priest. Africa, leaving aside 
the northern provinces, numbers only five or six mission 
stations, along coasts extending more than two thousand 
leagues. [17] On each page of the annals of Propaganda, we 

[16] Cornelius a Lapide: Commentary on Matthew , vol.15, p. 564. 
[17] Abbe Soulie: La Fin du Monde, V, Palme, 1872. 

find this sorrowful strain, welling up from the hearts of 
Katies" "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that 
he send labourers into his harvest. [18] 

Now, it is written that, at the end of the times the 
Gospel will have been given as a testimony to all the 

David cries out: "All the ends of the earth shall 
v. v- ^„a chall be converted to the Lord... For tne 

nations." [19] 

Further on, David continues: "And he shall rule from 
sea to sea: from the river unto the ends of the earth. 
Before° him the Ethiopians shall fall .^ .the Kings of 
the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts. [20] 

The Lord then speaks through Isaias to the Church: 

Gentiles and shall inherit the desolate cities. [21] 

These texts are explicit and precise. It is clear 

" . . . • _„ +.>,-+. -t-hpre will come a time when all 

from their testimony that tnere wm <- relig- 

heresies and schisms will be overcome, and the true reiig_ 
ion known and practised by everyone, in all places ilium 
inated by the sun. 

Thiq unitv W in assuredly not be achieved easily; 
mankind "ill not reach this golden age along paths strewn 
IS roses the foundations of the Church were built up 
with thTblood of martyrs, mingled with the sweat of the 

qn we must expect strife and bitter resistance. 
Blood -ill "be^he'd, tie spirit of da J^» «££.<?■<£, "£ J 
count on cher^er^ terrible .SS^ - 
^^LnTwetust SrnTo SSe^ Sou 3 h 

^li^ii rn^ntioTs 'of = ?l£" Sftbeir 
drjineiy-appolnted eni. Would God in our days bave given 
divineiy appoini. se crets and hidden treasures of 

TrlJio^Z^ia^e^r^ into his hands a,, those 
marvellous instruments such as steam, magnetism, elec 
tricitv for the sole purpose of providing a new spur to 
oride of being the docile slaves of his selfishness 
and greed? Such wL not the thought which He expressed 
b? the voice of the prophet, when He said: I wxl give 
winas to mv word, harness fire to my chariots, seize my 
SSsrles aJ if in a whirlwind and transport them in the 
Sibling of an eye amidst the barbarian nations. 

Thus, the time is near when Christ will ga incomplete 
triumph, when in very truth, he can be called Lord of the 
earth:. "Deus omnis terrae vocabitur. 1<^J 

[18] Luke 10:2. 
[19] Psalm 21:29. 
[20] Psalm 71:8-10. 
[21] Isaias 54:2,3,4. 
[22] Isaias 34:5. 


At present many signs point to a great victory for 
Christianity. Do not our enemies have a presentiment of 
it? Does not a secret instinct warn them that the days of 
their power are numbered, and that the time when it is 
given to them to prevail cannot be of long duration? That 
is why, in their impatience to throw off the mask from 
every hypocrisy in the evil war they are waging against 
the Church they resbrt to all-kinds of malevolent deprav- 
ity, and every hostile art of shady, atheistic politics. 
The revolution boldly raises its standard against religion, 
property and the family; saps the foundations of the 
social structure; and mounts its attacks against us simul- 
taneously, and on every front. The press, freed from 
every restraint, disseminates the most subversive doct- 
rines and the deadliest poisons in a thousand organs. The 
venerable throne of the Holy See, attacked with satanic 
audacity, depicted as a centre of ignorance and obscurant- 
ism, as a blot on the splendours of our civilization, has 
finally succumbed before this mass of concerted efforts; 
it has collapsed utterly, so that, humanly speaking, it is 
impossible to entertain any hope of its being able soon to 
rise again. 

We can understand that, in such a situation, the 
mighty should feel irresolute in their counsels, and their 
courage and constancy seem to falter. We can understand 
that, beyond the clouds and troubled horizons, they dis- 
cern sombre prospects, and predict a renewed outbreak of 
crime, wars and frightful upheavals. Yet it is precisely 
the incredible audacity, and the continually renascent 
fury of our enemies, which gives us hope of a glorious new 
era for the Church. Christianity, in our days, is being 
attacked everywhere: in the arts and sciences, in Church 
and State, in Europe as well as Asia, in the old and new 
world: a sure sign that it will triumph everywhere. When 
will this be? God knows, but the fact is certain. The 
blood of martyrs becomes the seed of Christians. The 
Church has immutable promises. As she comes out of the 
Red Sea, she enters the Promised Land. The hour of dark- 
ness gives way to that of light and triumph. Following 
the outrages of Golgotha, she hears resounding around her 
the blessings and hosannas of the deliverance. 

So let us not lose heart. Let us rejoice at what the 
future holds; and if, at the present time, our country is 
a prey to convulsions and torn by discord; if her fortune 
and political influence have become a prize, fought over 
by unsatisfied ambitions and vulgar nonentities, like the 
Prodigal Son of the Gospel, it will not be long before the 
memory of the peace and honour of the centuries of her 
youth return to her mind; she will cast off her chains and 
the mask of her ignominy; and, once again, there will be 
brilliant pages to be written, in the book which bears the 
title, Gesta Dei per Francos. 

Yet, ev.en if the end of the world were to be deferred 
for many centuries, what are centuries compared to the 
years of eternity? A second, an instant, more fleeting 
than lightning. When the Son of God was raised up to 
Heaven, seated upon a cloud, the Apostles could not take 
their eyes from the place in the sky where He had van- 
ished. Suddenly, two angels in white garments appeared to 
them, and said: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking 
up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into 
heaven shall so come as you have seen him going into 
heaven. " [23] 

[23] Viri Galilei, quid statis aspicientes in coelum? Hie 
Jesus qui assuraptus est a vobis in coelum, sic veniet, 
qu em ad mod urn vidistis eum euntem in coelis. (Acts 1:10, LI) 

Elsewhere, Christ says: "A little while, and now you shall 
not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see 
me; because I go to the Father." [24] 

Nevertheless, although Christ intended to leave us in 
ignorance concerning the exact time of the end of the 
world, He deemed it fitting to give us detailed inform- 
ation on the manner and circumstances of this great event. 

The end of the world, He says, will happen instant- 
aneously and unexpectedly: "Veniet dies Domini sicut 
fur." [25] 

It will come at a time when the human race, sunk in 
the uttermost depths of indifference, will be far from 
thinking about punishment and justice. Divine mercy will 
have exhausted all its resources and means of action. 
Antichrist will have appeared. Men over the whole surface 
of the earth will have been called to the knowledge of the 
truth. The Catholic Church will have blossomed out into 
the fullness of her life and fecundity for the last time. 

Nevertheless, all these superabundant favours and 
prodigies will, once more, vanish from the hearts and 
memory of man. By a criminal abuse of graces, mankind 
will have returned to its vomit. Concentrating their 
affections and all their aspirations on the goods and 
gross pleasures of this world, they will, as the Sacred 
Books tell us, have so far turned their backs on God as to 
be unable to look up to Heaven, and remember its just 
judgements. [26] All faith will be extinguished in hearts. 
All flesh will have corrupted its ways. Divine Providence 
will judge that it is beyond remedy. 

As Christ says, it will be as in "the days of Noe. [27] 
At that time, men lived without a care, made plantations, 
built luxurious houses, poked fun at the old fellow Noe, 
as he set himself up as a carpenter, and worked day and 
night, building his ark. "Madman! Dreamer!" they would 
say. This went on until the day when the Flood came and 
engulfed the whole earth: "The flood came and destroyed 
them all." (Luke 17:27) 

Thus, the final catastrophe will take place when the 
world is at its most secure: civilization will be at its 
zenith, markets will be overflowing with money and govern- 
ment stocks will never have been higher. There will be 
national celebrations, great exhibitions, and mankind, 
wallowing in an unprecedented material prosperity, will 
have ceased to hope for heaven. Crudely attached to the 
basest pleasures of life, men, like the miser in the 
Gospel, will say: My soul, you will possess your goods for 
many a long year. Eat, drink and be merry... 

Suddenly, -in the middle of the night, "in media 
nocte" - for it will be amidst the darkness, and at that 
fateful midnight hour, when the Lord once appeared in His 
lowliness, that He will appear again - men, startled out 

[24] Modicum et jam -non videbitis me: et iterum modicum, et 
videbitis me: quia vado ad Patrem. (John 16:16) 

[25] 2 Peter 3:10. 

[26] Daniel 13:9. 

[27] Matthew 24:37,38. 


of their sleep, will hear a great clamour and noise, and a 
voice will be heard saying: "Behold, the bridegroom 
cometh. Go ye forth to meet him." Ecce, sponsus venit, 
exite obviara ei . [ 28 ] 

In the annals of Savoy the memory and tradition is 
preserved of an appalling catastrophe, which presents us 
the image and outline of what will happen when God 
abandons the* human race, and His patience is finally 

It was seven hundred years- ago, on 24th November, 
124 8, the eve of the day when the Church celebrates the 
feast of St. Catherine. 

That evening, the season was mild, the air calm and 
the stars twinkled in the sky. The whole valley where the 
present town of Chambery is situated lay quiet and secure. 

An evil, irreligious man then ruled tyrannically over 
a town, now gone for ever, but which at that time stood 
next to the city of my story. [29] 

This man had gathered together a large number of 
merry companions. He was celebrating, with banquets and 
drunken revelry, the sacrilegious plunder of a monastery 
which he had turned to profane use, after mercilessly 
expelling the monks and holy inmates who were the leg- 
itimate owners. Probably, as in Balthazar's time, it was 
a sumptuous meal, and the wine and liqueurs, mingled with 
blasphemies and sardonic laughter, flowed in abundance. 
Suddenly, in an instant, in the middle of the night, the 
earth was shaken by a tremendous shock. Sky and ground 
seemed to be shaken by horrible whirlwinds, voices and 
howling of storms, which you would have thought came from 
the caverns of hell; and, before the guests could rise to 
their feet, before they could utter a cry for help, they 

[28] Matthew 25:6. 

[29] This town, thriving in the 13th Century, was the town of 
Saint- Andre> 4% miles from Chambery. It was the centre of the 
ecclesiastical deanery of Savoy, possessing a priory and a 
chapter, the dean of which had jurisdiction over the surround- 
ing parishes. In the county of Savoy, it happened that a 
counsellor or advocate of the count, named Jacques Bonivard, 
managed, through lies and intrigue, to have the priory of 
Saint-Andre assigned to him in commendam, by the count of Savoy 
and Pope Innocent IV. To mark his assumption of possession, he 
invited his friends to a great feast when, in the middle of the 
night, a rock, of some four furlongs in size, suddenly broke 
loose from a high mountain, called Mont Gramier, and crushed 
beneath its ruins Bonivard with his friends, the priory and 
fifteen or sixteen neighbouring villages or hamlets, over the 
space of a full league. The monks of the priory, whom Bonivard 
had driven out by force, were the sole survivors, having taken 
refuge in the chapel of Notre-Dame de Myans, now the national 
shrine of Savoy, which owes its fame to its miraculous pre- 
servation, at the time of the complete destruction of Saint- 
Andre, and the hamlets of the deanery. This annihilation of 
five parishes was so stupendous, and wrought such havoc on the 
land, that no trace of them remained, except for a few mounds 
here and there, and some small lakes of running water, so deep 
that, for several centuries, they could not be sounded. (For 
further details, see the fine book by Fr. Trepier, Histoire du 
Decanat de Savoie . ) 

were buried alive beneath the collapsing mass of a gigan- 
tic mountain: one town, five hamlets, a whole region of 
six thousand inhabitants, were engulfed in chasms, the 
traces of which are written in indelible characters on the 
fragments of our souls, and remain as an ineffaceable and 
living memory of mingled legend and horror in the minds 
of our people, . -_ ■----. 

-This image, borrowed from one -of the most memorable 
-and dreadful events that have occurred in our history is, 
in one sense, more vivid- and striking than that of Noe and 
the Flood: for, at least, at the" time of Noe and the 
Flood, men had time to collect their thoughts, and obtain" 
the grace of repentance before they perished, and the 
disaster struck only gradually; if all did not succeed -in 
saving themselves for the present life, St. Peter tells us 
explicitly that the greater number returned to God, and 
saved themselves for the life to come.* In his first 
Epistle, chapter 3, verses 19 and 20, he says that, when 
the holy soul of Jesus Christ had been separated from Hxs 
body, He "preached to those spirits that were in prison, 
which had been for some time incredulous, when they waited 
for the patience of God- in the days of Noe." 

On the day of judgement, however, it will be as at 
the abyss of Myan and. the foot of the hill of Saint-Andre: 
it will all happen with unparalleled promptness and 
violence - "Coeli magno impetu transient." 

Christ tells us: "...he that is on the house-top, let 
him not come down to take anything out of his house; and 
he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his 
coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give 
suck in those days... Then, if any man shall say to you: 
Lo, here is Christ, or there; do not believe him... For as 
lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into 
the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man 
be. "[30] 

By what means will this great destruction take place? 
What will be the efficient cause, the principal agent, the 
direct, immediate instrument? Holy Scripture did not 
intend to omit any of the circumstances concerning this 
event, the gravest and most decisive of all that have 
succeeded one another since the creation. It teaches that 

* Note by the publishers of the English edition. It is true 
that St. Jerome and other Catholic interpreters have held the 
view that some of those who had initially mocked Noe when he 
was building the ark repented when the flood which he had 
foretold arrived and were saved after a period of expiation in 
Purgatory. That these were "the greater number", however, is a 
view peculiar to Fr. Arminjon and may have arisen from a lapse 
of memory or a misleading of the text in question. Certainly 
the fact that Our Lord preached to the souls who had been 
incredulous in the time of Noe and later repented in no way 
says or implies that the majority were in this category. 

In fact it is also permissible to interpret the passage in 
question as referring to those who died during the century 
between the commencement of the construction of the ark and the 
coming of the flood, including, perhaps, Noe's father Lamech 
and grandfather Mathusala. If this interpretation were correct 
it would not necessarily be true that any had been saved out- 
side the ark during the flood which would accord more closely 
with the parallel between the ark and the Church as the sole 
means of salvation. 

f 301 Matthew 24:17,18,27. 


the world will not perish by inundation as at the Flood, 
will not collapse by virtue of an earthquake and will not 
be buried under ashes and lava __ as were Herculaneum and 
Pompeii- in the reign of Titus, but will be set ablaze and 
destroyed by fire. [31] Such was already the ancient 
belief, common among the Egyptians and the Persian phil- 
osophers. Cicero said that /the world would end by 
fire. [32] 

The remarkable thing is that present-day science 
concurs with the Sacred Books, in showing that fire will 
be the great architect of God's justice, and of the reno- 
vation which will follow when_ this has been manifest- 
ed. [33] 

Thus, science, like the Bible, has revealed that fire 
was the first created force to have developed its energy 
and displayed its activity. It was by fire that nature 
was made fruitful, and the elements set to work; thence 
came, also, the great transformations of the primitive 
world, the erection of mountains, the making of the stars 
and, finally, the emergence of the universe, with all the 
order and variety which it presents to our admiring gaze. 

Genesis 1:2 says: "The earth was void and empty, and 
darkness was upon the face of the deep." In other words, 
as the experts and commentators explain, matter was volat- 
ilized, and in the state of vapour. Before the Creator 
had bestowed its properties and diverse forms, by dividing 

[31] Although apocryphal, the book of Enoch seems to contain 
the principal beliefs prevailing in Judaea in the time of 
Christ. It is said that, when men shall have filled up the 
measure of their iniquities towards God and Israel, then shall 
come the great cataclysm, of which the Flood was only the 
prelude and, as it were, the warning. This time, divine just- 
ice will go the whole way; evil will be conquered for ever; the 
earth will be purified by fire, not by water. Beneath new 
heavens and upon a new earth, will begin the reign without end 
of the elect, a reign of justice, truth and peace, the true 
reign of God, wherein Israel will be the royal people. 

[32] A common funeral-pyre awaits the world, says Lucan, in 
which the bones of men will be mingled with the remains of the 
stars. "Communis mundo superest rogus, ossibus astra mixturus." 
( Pharsalia , XXIII) 

Ovid portrays Jupiter on the point of casting his thunder- 
bolts upon the earth, and stopping suddenly for, he says: The 
decrees of fate come to his mind, and he recalls that, one day, 
the sea, the land and the very palace of heaven will burst into 
flame and burn up, and the framework of the world, made with 
such skill, put out of joint. 

"Ecce quoque in fatis reminiscitur adfore tempus 
Quo mare, quo tellus, corruptaque regia coeli 
Ardeat, et mundi moles operosa laboret. " ( Metamor - 
phoses ,! , 350) 
(On this tradition and these various quotations, see the 
work of Fr. de Bouniol - Etudes religieuses , Nov. 1879) 

[33] This combustion of the world is a fact already begun, and 
observed by astronomers. Fr. Secchi speaks of a star which, in 
twelve days, grew from the second to the sixth magnitude. Its 
spectrum was studied. It was found from its dazzling spectrum- 
lines, that it passed through all the phases of incandescence, 
and was enveloped in a vast fire. The same observation has 
been made on other stars, which have extinguished in a few days 
and completely disappeared. 

and co-ordinating it in the six days' labour, all these 
constituents were jumbled, disunited and in a ch aotic 
state. Earth, sun and stars presented a picture of a 
vast, liquescent or gaseous sea, scattered around the 
immensity of space. This sea was motionless and inert. 
It bubbled on its surface and in its innermost depths, and 
was set in motion under the quickening breath of ar l eter- 
nal, all-powerful agent, which was none other than the 
Spirit of God: Et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas. [3 4] 
The Holy Spirit subjected the material substance to a sort 
of incubation. Under the action and by the effects of 
this sovereign heat of immeasurable intensity, the ele- 
ments underwent a casting and recasting , perfected them- 
selves, acquired their power and energy, shed their dross, 
like gold, which is refined and separated from its rust, 
in th! crucible where it is cast. When, thus transformed 
by the blast of this furnace of the Holy Spirit, they were 
rendered capable of hearing the word of God, the Creator 
called them in turn and said: 

"Be light made. And light was made;" and, after He had 
made night and day and laid out the sky, He separated the 
solid matter from the vaporous mass surrounding it, and 
said: "Let the dry land appear" and the land was consol- 
idated. He spoke also to the waters, leaving, on our 
globe, out of Se liquid part, only what was necessary to 
irrigate it and fill the basins of the seas, and sent away 
the remainder, in the state of vapour or ether, to fill 
the vast expanses above all the spheres and skies: [35] 
Divisitque aquas quae erant sub firmamento, ab his quae 
erant super f irmamentum. [36] 

It was a grand, sublime scene, which would give rise 
to long and magnificent developments. Who would not feel 
his spirits rise, and his heart quiver, at the sight of 
the creative act, that masterpiece of divine wisdom and 
power, throwing up streams of light and beauty from the 
shapeless, shadowy ocean, implanting movement and action 
in all the inert beings, which the divine Spirit had 
invested with His character, penetrating them with His 
fire and radiance? 

[34] Genesis 1:2. 

f351 From indisputable investigations and observations, and by 
resolviS the light of the stars, the most learned astronomers 
of our century, Janssen, Secchi and Angstroem, have established 
the existence of higher waters in the area of the firmament, 
Sat^s TSund the" sun, in the planets and -even in the most 
distant stars. On 12th May, 1869, Janssen wrote from Himalaya 
to the Academy of Science in Paris: "Certain hypotheses led me 
S investigate whether the spectral light of certa in stars did 
not present the optical characteristics of water, vapour. 
Experiment has confirmed my predictions. Today we _can- no 
.longer -doubt that a large number of stars are enveloped I in an 
aqueous atmosphere. The sun itself shows spots and furrows, - 
caused by wate P r vapour." These are the higher waters^ XXile 
in the Bible. Thus, true science has confounded the _ hostile, 
unbelieving science which scoffed at Moses, and falsely in- 
veighed against our sacred books. 

[36] Genesis 1:17. 


Et spiritus oris ejus omnis virtus eorum. [37] Today, 

however, we cannot speak of these admirable works except 

in_ passing, and insofar as they bear upon our chosen 

Now, this same Spirit of God, who has strewn trea- 
sures of harmony and perfection throughout the universe, 
will proceed in the same way, when it comes to ordaining 
hew heavens, and building that palace which shall serve 
eternally, as a dwelling-place for glorified men. 

Here, we are not indulging our imagination, and our 
voice is not our own, but that of all the prophets who 
have spoken, and of all the evangelists who have written: 
"A fire shall go before him, and shall burn his enemies 
round about... The mountains melted like wax, at the 
presence of the Lord." [38] Under the effect of its bril- 
liance, the sun will darken and the moon will no longer 
give its light, and the stars will fall. That is, 
having been dissolved for the second time, they will 
vanish like droplets in the air. [39] 

That fire will be the one which will devour the 
wicked like straw, penetrate their bones to the marrow and 
consume them forever. 

[37] Psalm 33:6. 
[38] Psalm 96:3,4. 

[39] In accordance with the Gospel texts which tell us plainly 
that the powers of Heaven will be moved - Virtutes Dei commove- 
buntur - and that the stars in the sky will fall, it must be 
acknowledged that . it will not be only our earth, but the stars 
or, at the very least, the whole of our planetary system, which 
will be dissolved, . thrown into disorder and set ablaze. In his 
treatise on the celestial mechanism, and in his theory on the 
variation of the planets and the displacement of their orbital 
axis, the astronomer Lagrange draws the conclusion that our 
planetary system is safe from all collapse, and that it is so 
constituted as to be capable of lasting thousands of millions 
of centuries. Lagrange's theory is no doubt very fine and 
ingenious, but is founded on the hypothesis that no extraneous 
and unforeseen cause will intervene to change the present 
order, and belie the exact calculations of science. Now, He 
who has created the heavens and directed their movements with 
such perfect and admirable harmony and order can, in an in- 
stant, and without any miracle, undo His work. By a secret 
cause, unknown to man, He can produce a confusion or change in 
the celestial movements which will, instantaneously and utter- 
ly, overturn them and, in the planets and the motion of their 
satellites, neutralize and suspend the forces and laws of 
attraction, which our experts consider invariable and eternal. 
We know that these things will take place, as the eternal Truth 
has formally foretold that the ruin and disruption of the 
heavens will come at the end of the times; and this ruin is 
certain, as it is written: "Coeli et terra transibunt, verba 
autem mea non praeteribunt. " As the Italians say: "Scillaba di 
Dio non si cancella." Thus the end of the world will be a 
supernatural fact because, as to the time, it belongs to the 
exclusive competence of God's will, and, as to the manner, it 
will be a fact of the natural order, because God will use 
secondary and natural causes to bring it about. 

It will be the final trial for the just who will be 
living in the last days. For them, it will take the place 
of Purgatory, the cleansing flames of which, at the moment 
of the resurrection, will be extinguished, never to be lit 
up again. It will be the crucible wherein they will cast 
off the remains of their earthly rust, so that no stain 
may darken the whiteness of their garments, when they 
appear before the throne of God. 

We may be quite certain that all these events will be 
accomplished. They are certain, with absolute certitude, 
as God is Himself, as is His spirit of truth, which is not 
subject to any error or change . 

As a matter of fact, we can state that every one of 
us here will have left this lower world, before being 
witnesses of this great scene of desolation and ruin. 
Nonetheless, Jesus Christ has judged it fitting that we 
should be instructed concerning it, because these great 
truths are not of a speculative order, but are intended to 
bring about practical and immediate effects in the conduct 
of our lives . 

In truth, if the earth and all it contains must one 
day disappear by fire, the goods of this world are no more 
to be esteemed than wood and straw. What point is there, 
then, in making them the object of our desires and cares? 
Why seek to build and leave marks of our genius and power 
where we have no permanent abode, and where the form of 
this world will be removed, like a tent which has no 
travellers to shelter? 

It may be said that it will be a thousand years 
before this frightening cataclysm takes place; but Christ 
has said that a thousand years are but an instant compared 
with eternity, and when the moment comes - when, from the 
land of the future life, we are the witnesses and actors 
in that supreme drama - the whole span of humanity will 
seem so short to us, that we shall scarcely consider it to 
have lasted a single day. [40] 

The great prophet, St. Paul, for whom time had no 
bounds and space no size, believed that he had already 
been transported there. In his cave at Bethlehem, St. 
Jerome could hear the trumpet of doom awakening the dead, 
and his hair stood on end, out of fear, and his flesh and 
bones quivered with an indescribable shudder. Lastly, 
Christ tells us to meditate upon these great teachings, 
for it is certain that we shall be taken by surprise, and 
that the time will come sooner than we think. 

"At the end of the fourteenth century, an extra- 
ordinary personage appeared from the depths of Spain. His 
name was Vincent Ferrer. A prophet and wonder-worker 
since his youth, he grew up amidst universal astonishment. 
The Spirit of God lay upon him, took possession of his 
heart and inflamed him with a zeal unknown since St. Paul. 
It ruled his body, which he sustained, despite his extreme 
weakness, amidst the most crushing labours, and the harsh- 
est austerities. The power to _ work miracles was granted 
him - in short, he uttered the most prodigiously powerful 
words that mankind had ever heard since St. Paul. 

[4 0] "Mille anni, ante oculos tuos, tamquam dies hesterna quae 
praeteriit." (Psalm 39:4) 


"A super-human being, although he was a man, he - 
constantly refused the honours which the Pope urged him to 
accept. His life was one of continuous prayer, fasting 
and preaching. For twenty years, he travelled through 
Europe, and, for twenty years, Europe trembled beneath the ._ 
ardour and fire of his inspired voice. ~ 

"The last judgement was the favourite : sub ject of his 
preaching. He himself declared to all that he had been 
specially sent by the Sovereign Judge, to proclaim the 
approach of the last days. - . _ 

"One day, at Salamanca, a city" renowned for its theo- 
logians and scholars, a countless throng crowded round to 
hear the messenger from Heaven. Suddenly, raising his 
voice in the middle of the multitude,- he said: 'I am the 
angel of the Apocalypse whom St. John saw flying through 
the midst of heaven, crying aloud: Ye nations, fear the 
Lord and render Him glory, for the day of judgement is 
near . * 

"At these strange words, an indescribable murmur 
broke out amidst the assembly. There were shouts of 
'Madness!' 'Bragging!' 'Impiety!' 

"The messenger of God paused, gazing at the sky in a 
kind of rapture or ecstasy; then, he continued and, rais- 
ing his voice, cried out again: 'I am the angel of the 
Apocalypse, the angel of the judgement.' The agitation 
and murmuring reached its height. 'Calm yourselves,' said 
the saint, 'do not take scandal at my words. You will see 
with your own eyes that I am what I say. Go to the gate 
of St. Paul, at the end of the city, and you will find a 
dead woman. Bring her to me, and I shall raise her to 
life, as proof of what St. John said of me. 

"Once more, shouts and an even greater protest 
greeted this proposal. Nevertheless, a few men decided to 
go to the gate indicated. There, they did indeed find a 
dead woman, took her up and laid her amidst the assembly. 

"The apostle, who did not for a moment leave the 
elevated spot from which he was preaching, said: 'Woman, 
in the name of God, I command you to rise.' The dead 
woman immediately rose, wrapped in her shroud, cast off 
the winding-sheet that covered her face, and showed her- 
self full of life, in the middle of the assembly. Vincent 
then added: 'For the honour of God and the salvation of 
all these people, say, now that you can speak, whether I 
am really the angel of the Apocalypse, entrusted with 
proclaiming to all the approach of the last judgement. 
•You are that angel,' replied the woman, 'truly you are. 

"In order to place this marvellous testimony between 
two miracles, the saint spoke to her again: 'Do you prefer 
to remain alive, or do you wish to die once more?' I 
should willingly live.' said the woman. 'Live then.' In 
fact, she lived many years longer, a living witness, says 
one historian, of an astounding prodigy, and of the high- 
est mission ever entrusted to man. "[41] 

We shall not discuss the authenticity of this story. 
It has raised doubts among certain hagiographers, and the 
circumstances surrounding it have given rise to criticism 
and debate. In defence of our opinion, it suffices to 

r A 1 1 Mr.r- r.;inmp! On al lnns-nnus? no. XVII. 


state that the Church has not pronounced it apocryphal, 
since, in the Bull of canonization of the saint, it is 
said: "He had the words of the eternal Gospel, to pro- 
claim, as the angel flying through the midst of heaven, 
the kingdom of God, to every tongue, tribe and nation, and 
to show the proximity of the last judgement." 

However, it is nearly five hundred years since this 
event happened, and the last judgement announced by the 
wonder-worker of the fourteenth century has not taken 
place. Are we to conclude that the saint was misled, and 
that the miracle of this resurrection, attested by serious, 
trustworthy witnesses, recalled and handed down in sculp- 
ture and painting, must be assigned to the realm of legend, 
and held to be an allegory, a mere invention? 

St. Vincent Ferrer spoke in the same way as holy 
Doctors had done before him, and as the majority of great 
apostolic men have done after him. Thus, as a matter of 
fact, St. Jerome censured a certain Juda, the famous 
author of an Ecclesiastical History , for having asserted 
that the violence of the persecution portended the end of 
the world, which would occur in a short time; yet, the 
same St. Jerome in one of his letters, [42] brilliantly 
depicting the calamities and disasters which he had wit- 
nessed, himself expressed almost the same opinion. St. 
Cyprian ( Epistle 58) wrote these words: "You must be 
convinced and hold for certain that the day of the final 
desolation has begun to dawn upon you, and that the time 
of Antichrist is near..." 

In the panegyric of his brother Satyrus, St. Ambrose 
exclaims: "He was removed from life, that he might not be 
a witness of the end of the world, and the complete des- 
truction of the universe." St. Gregory the Great and St. 
Bernard have expressed the same sentiments, in their books 
and discourses. These illustrious doctors and great 
saints spoke in this way, either because they saw faith 
becoming scarce and the calamities of their age increasing 
every day in alarming proportions, or because they were 
gripped by fear at the thought of that great day, and 
wanted to plant that salutary fear in men who had gone 
astray in order to bring them back to the knowledge of God 
and good living. Yet, we cannot say that they strayed 
from the truth; they spoke in accordance with Scripture, 
which, by emphasizing this fundamental truth, unceasingly 
shows the prospect of the advent of the divine Judge as 
xmminent: Prope est jam Dominus. 

In this, the Apostles and inspired writers have not 
deceived us, inasmuch as time is nothing to those who have 
crossed over the frontiers of earthly life. The whole 
span of the centuries, says the Holy Spirit, is no more 
than -the fleeting day, "tamquam dies hesterna quae prae- 
teriit". Just as, in the firmament, there are stars 
separated by myriads of miles which, on account of their_ 
distance, appear to merge, so as to form one single point, 
when observed from this earth: in the same way, from the 
heights of the life of God, where we shall one day be 
-immersed, time will be such as if it did not exist- A 
year - a hundred thousand years - millions of years, 
contemplated from the bosom of eternity, will not seem to 
us any more than mere points. We shall consider these 

[4 2] St. Jerome: 2nd letter to Ageruchia de Monogamia , 


lengths of time as so microscopic, so fractional , that, in 
a sense, there will not be any difference between them 
which our mind can discern. ""- " ' 

"Consequently, these "words of St. John the Evangelist 
may wittT perfect truthfulness be_ applied to the general 
resurrection, as well as- to the partial resurrections 
performed by Jesus Christ: "Amen, amen, I say unto you 
that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear 
the voice of the Son of God: Venit hora, et nunc est quando 
mortui audient vocem Eilii Dei, et qui audierint viv- 
ent._"[43] _ . _ 

Moreover, our eternal destiny will be settled irre- 
vocably at death, and the particular judgement which must 
follow will soon determine the circumstances in which we 
shall appear at the tribunal of divine justice, and the 
place which will there be assigned to us. 

Compared with this inevitable ending of human dest- 
inies, our political controversies are nothing but idle 
noise. Revolutions, which cause the disappearance of 
peoples and bring down republics and empires, are less 
than a change of scene or decoration in the theatre. All 
those colossal enterprises and marvellous works to which 
men devote their minds, and which they bring to perfection 
at the cost of the greatest sacrifices and the most hazard- 
ous efforts, appear like a mere wisp of smoke, and are 
more fragile works than the web spun by a spider, and most 
often last less than a day. 

There will then be no other distinction between men 
than that of merit and virtue. All vain and ambitious 
thoughts will have vanished. Politics will have ceased. 
Science itself will be destroyed: scientia destruetur. [44] 

Happy those who have heard the divine word, and kept 
it faithfully in their hearts. Happy those who, awakening 
from their sleep, shall have walked honestly and openly, 
following the Apostle's recommendation. Happy those who, 
like the wise virgins, shall have carefully conserved the 
oil of their lamp, and formed their sheaf for the day of 
the dazzling, solemn harvest. 

These shall be called the predestinate, because, as 
St. John says, their names are written in the book of life 
of the Lamb which was slain from the beginning of the 
world. May that destiny be ours. Amen. 

[43] John 5:27 
[4 4] Romans 3:8 



The Persecution of Antichrist and the 
Conversion of the Jews 

Et tunc revelabitur ille iniquus-, quern 
Dominus Jesus interficiet spiritu oris 
sui, et destruet illustratione adventus 

And then that wicked one shall be re- 
vealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall 
kill with the spirit of his mouth and 
shall destroy with the brightness of his 
coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:8) 

The world will have an end. This is a truth which we 
have established, and which faith and reason alike prove. 

The end of the world, and the subsequent final coming 
of the Son of God, will happen unexpectedly, with the 
rapidity of lightning, rending the clouds as it darts from 
east to west. 

However, precisely when that, day will come is a 
secret, hidden "in the depths of the divine intelligence. 
We know neither the day nor the hour, and Jesus Christ, 
the ambassador of the Divinity on earth, tells us that He 
has been explicitly commanded not to disclose them to us. 

Accordingly, all the opinions which learned and pious 
personages at different periods have permitted them- 
selves to express on this question, are no more than 
personal, private sentiments, assertions resting on mere 
conjecture, the error and futility of which has been 
demonstrated more than once by events. 

St. Cyprian and Tertullian, considering the fury of 
the persecutors and the violence of the war of extermin- 
ation, waged to the utmost against the Christians, des- 
ignated these calamities and all these horrors as signs of 
the proximity of the last judgement. 

"The end of the world is not far off," said St. John 
Chrysostom; "the earthquakes and the chilling of charity 
are, as it were, the forerunners and omens of that 
terrible event. " 

We all know that, - at the time of the fall of the 
Roman Empire and.the social dislocation which" accompanied 
that great cataclysm and, subsequently, at the beginning 
of ■"the -"year 1,000 of the Christian ..' era, people believed 
they were close to -the period^ foretold, and thought they 
were Seeing the prelude of the final destruction in the 
public disasters and collapse of institutions. 


Earlier, in the time of St. Paul, the same terror had 
gripped people's minds. Visionaries and leaders of fact- 
ions interpreted the words of St. Matthew's Gospel in a 
grossly literal sense. Convinced that the destruction of 
the world would follow closely upon the destruction of 

-^Jerusalem, they indulged in a rash of extravagant predict- 
ions, filling people's imagination with horror .- .They drew 
men away from the fulfilment of their civil and religious 
duties, invited them not to marry, not to build, but to 

_abandon themselves to a mind-softening inertia,- while 
awaiting the catastrophe which was to strike them. - 

St. Paul felt obliged to disabuse these beguiled and 
erring souls, and said to them: 

"And we beseech you, brethren, .. .that you may not be 
easily moved... as if the day of the Lord were at hand... 
for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin 
be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and is 
lifted up above all that is called God or that is wor- 
shipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing 
himself as if he were God. "[45] 

Here, then, is a definite fact, given by the Holy 
Ghost, and announced by St. Paul, in order to dispel the 
fears to which some were abandoning themselves, and to 
help faithful Christians guard against false systems and 
uncertain, hazardous predictions. 

What is clear and undeniable from the passage we have 
just quoted is that, before the end of the world, there 
will appear on earth a profoundly evil man, invested with 
a quasi-superhuman power, who, challenging Christ, will 
wage an impious and foolish war against Him. Through the 
fear which this man will inspire, and, particularly, by 
his strategems and seductive genius, he will succeed in 
conquering almost the entire universe, he will have altars 
erected to himself and will compel all peoples to adore 

Will this strange man, unique in his evil, be one of 
our race? Will his face have the features of man, and 
will the same blood as ours flow in the veins of this 
ringleader of error and corruption? Or, as some have 
understood, will he be an incarnation of Satan, a demon 
thrown up from Hell, and disguised in human form? Or 
again, as other doctors have maintained, is this wicked 
creature just a myth, an allegorical personage, in whom 
Holy Scripture and the Fathers intended to portray, in a 
single image, the totality of tyrants and persecutors - to 
set out prominently the collective image of all the wicked 
and all the heresiarchs who have fought against Christ and 
His Church, since the beginning of time? 

These various interpretations cannot be reconciled 
with the definite, precise text of the Sacred Books. 
Almost all the Doctors and Fathers, St. Augustine, St. 
Jerome and St. Thomas, clearly maintain that this terri- 
fying malefactor, this monster of impiety and depravity, 
will be a human person. The learned Bellarmine shows that 
it is impossible to give any other meaning to the words of 
St. Paul and those of Daniel 11: 36, 37 . [46] St. Paul 
designates this great adversary by a noun, calling him a 

[4 5] 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4,5,6. 

[46] Bellarmine: De Pontif ice, book III. 


man, "the man of sin, the son of perdition" . [47] 

Daniel informs us that he will attack all that ^ 
holy and worthy of respect, exalt himself toldly against 

aHde al^ abstract being; they can only fit an individual 
of flesh and blood, a real, definite personage. 

The Fathers and Doctors endeavoured to ascerta tin the 
oriain of Antichrist, and to discover from what parents 
and race he will come. They unanimously express the 
opinio" that he will be born of Jewish parents and some 
declare that he will be of the tribe of Dan Such is^the 
interpretation they give of the passage of genesis Let 

D o a f n t b hls a ot n he k r one^rorieremS 6 ^ ?*£*£&*}'& his 
Sorses w?s hearS from Dan. "[49] They also surmise that 
Sr/ohnTin his Apocalypse forbore to «ntxo» the 
of Dan through hatred of Antichrist. But all these sup 
positions are* uncertain. What seems bgronddo«Jt is that 
Lfinhrist will be of Jewish birth. St. Ambrose, in nib 
commentated on the Epistle to the Thessalonians, says 
Sat he will be circumcised. Sulpicius Severus, in book 
TTnf his Dialogues says that he will compel all hxs 
subjects to submit to circumcision. 

Moreover, all concur in saying that at the beginning 
of his rliqn he will succeed, by means of his trickery and 
fame r" m 9 a n kin e g W the Jews believe that he is the Messrs 
whom they have unceasingly awaited, and that they, in their 
blindness will hasten to receive him and honour him as 
such That is how Suarez and most of the commentators 
interpret this saying of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in St. 
John 5^43: "I am come in the name of my Father, and you 
receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him 
you will receive." [50] 

The same meaning must be given to these other words 
of st Paul to the Thessalonians: "Because they receive 
not the love of the truth, that they might be .saved 
Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to 
believe lying. "151] Now, is it. likely that the Jews would 
accialm/^MeLiis, a man who did not be Ion, , to their 
race and had not been circumcised? Antichrist, tnen, 
Sill be a Jew. Will he be born of an illegitimate union? 
The theologian Suarez tells us that it is uncertain. 
Nevertheless it may be. presumed ^ft » '"/"^""SJ? 
evil, so opposed to Christ in his life and morals, will 
have an infamous origin; and, just as Jesus Christ had the 

[471 In Greek, the article invariably designates a specif ic "" 
individual. not used to denote generic and abstract 
beings. Now, the Apostle, in speaking of Antichrist uses these 
expressions: 6 avOpunoq tfic 6MapxtaQ, 6 ui6q me finwAeiac;. 

[48] Fiat Dan coluber in via, semita. (Genesis 

49:17) ^ 

[49] Ex Dan audivimus fremitum equorum. (Jeremias 8:16) 

[50] Si alius venerit in nomine suo, ilium recipietis. 

[51] Eo quod charitatem veritatis non receperunt ut salvi 
fieren?. Ideo mittet illis Deus operationem erroris ut credant 


Immaculate Virgin as His mother, so we may conclude, by 
analogy and induction, that His avowed adversary will be 
born of an impure union, and will be the offspring of an 
unchaste woman. [52] . "He will be a child of fornication," 
says St. John Damascene, "and his birth will be saturated 
with the breath and spirit of Satan." 

What may "be safely asserted of this man of iniquity 
is that, right from his tenderest years, he will be com- 
pletely possessed by the spirit and genius of the devil. 
The lion of the abyss which, in the last ages of mankind, 
God, in His inscrutable justice, will unleash in order to 
punish the infidelity of men, will unite himself with him 
in a certain way, infusing him with the fullness of his 
evil. No doubt he will not be deprived of the assistance 
of his guardian angel, nor of the necessary help of suf- 
ficient grace, which God bestows in this life upon every 
single man; [53] but his hatred of God will be so violent, 
his aversion for every good work so invincible, and his 
association and commerce with the spirit of darkness so 
close and continual that, from his cradle to his last 
breath, he will remain immutably hostile to all divine 
invitations, and grace from above will never penetrate his 

St. Thomas tells us that, in his person and works, he 
will reveal himself as the reverse of the Son of God, and 
will parody His miracles and works. 

Since his origin, the evil spirit has ever pursued 
one single goal - to usurp the place of the Omnipotent 
God, to form a kingdom for himself here below, in com- 
pensation for the kingdom of Heaven from which he is 
excluded by his rebellion; and, says Tertullian, the more 
surely to attain this goal, he is in the habit of making 
himself the ape of God , counterfeiting all His works. 

The adversary of the last times, then, will not only 
set himself up as the avowed, personal enemy of Jesus 
Christ: he will aim openly to dethrone Him, to replace Him 
in the homage and veneration of men and have directed to 
himself the worship and glory which are due to the Creator 
alone. He will declare, says St. Thomas, that he is the 
Supreme, Eternal Being, and, by virtue of this, he will 
ordain that honours and a cult of latria shall be accorded 
him. Thus, he will have priests, he will have sacrifices 
offered to him, he will demand that his name should be 
invoked in oaths, and that men should use it to guarantee 
the security of treaties: Ita ut ostendens se tanquam sit 
Deus . In order to lend greater credence to this belief, 
he will counter divine revelation with false revelations; 
in opposition to the ceremonies of divine worship, he will 
set up his own impious rites; and, against the eternal 
Church founded by Christ, he will constitute an abominable 
society, of which he will be the leader and pontiff. St. 
Thomas adds that, just as the fullness of the Divinity 
dwells corporally in the Incarnate Word, so the fullness 

[5 2] Ex fornicatione parietur atque omnem satanae aff latum sus- 
cipiet. (St. John Damascene; book 50, chapter 27) 

[5 3] Neque existimandum est Deum denegaturum illi gratiam suam 
sufficientem et necessariam. Est autem verisimile tantam fore 
antichristi malitiam, ac tarn frequenter usum operandi et cogi- 
tandi mala, tantamque cum doemone familiaritem et conjunct- 
lonem , ut vix unquam det locum alicui bonae inspirationi, aut 
effectu spirituali angelorum custodiae, aut divinae gratiae. 
(Suarez: XIX, p. 1034, edited by Vives) 


of all evil will dwell in this terrible man, whose mission 
and works will be but an imitation in reverse, and an 
execrable counterfeit, of the mission and works of Christ. 

Through him Satan will put the seal on his wicked- 
ness. He will make this living figure the quintessence, 
as it were, of all the sinister schemes which he has 
formed against mankind, and will not cease to arouse in 
him the burning, implacable hatred of God which moves him; 
and the Lord of Heaven, in His hidden counsels, will allow 
this firebrand from Hell to prevail for a time; 

St. Thomas applies to this delegate of Satan [54] the 
description "caput omnium malorum" : the prince and insti- 
gator of all the covetousness of the flesh and all the 
aberrations of the mind - so much so that the masters of 
lies and architects of evil who have followed one another 
in the course of the ages will seem, by comparison with 
this man, mere pygmies beside a giant. Thus, he will 
repeat the infamous deeds of Nero; he will be filled with 
the hatred and violence of Diocletian; he will have the 
cunning and duplicity of Julian the Apostate; he will 
resort to intimidation and will bend the earth beneath his 
sceptre like Mohammed; he will be a learned man, a philo- 
sopher, a skilful orator, outstanding in the arts and in 
the manufacturing sciences, he will handle mockery and 
ridicule like Voltaire. Lastly, he will work wonders, and 
rise into the air like Simon Magus. [55] 

If you ask why Divine Providence will allow him to 
exercise such power and seduction, St. . Paul the Apostle 
gives us the reason: "Because they receive not the love of 
the truth, whereby they might be saved. Therefore, God 
shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying; 
that all may be judged who have not believed the truth but 
have consented to iniquity- " [56] Suarez says that God 
will permit the coming of Antichrist, particularly in 
order to punish the incredulity of the Jews. The latter, 
not having wished to worship the true Messias, nor to be 
convinced by His doctrine and miracles, God will permit 
them, for their punishment, to attach themselves to a 
false Messias, accord credence to his impious deeds and 
doctrine, and follow him in his dissolute life. [57] 

At that time the peril for souls will be great, and 
the scandal of the contagion universal. Nevertheless, in 
order that those who are taken by surprise may not attri- 
bute their misfortune to anyone but themselves, the Holy 
Spirit has sought to give us an outline in advance of the 
principal stages of that terrible, decisive trial, the 
climax of all those that mankind has undergone. 

[54] Est autem credibile, ilium futurum athaeum nullumque prae- 
mium aut poenam in alia vita speraturum, ac propterea solum 
daemonem veneraturum a quo fallendi artem addiscet, divitias 
obtinebit et cujus ope imperium comparabit. (Suarez: Question 

[55] St. Thomas, lib. ifl, 21; VIII, 6. 

[56] 2 Thessalonians 2:10,11,12. 

[5 7] Licet antichristus non mittetur a Deo, venire tamen per- 
mittetur. Hoc ergo sensu mittetur antichristus, seu veniet, ut 
Judaeos decipiet in poenam incredulitatis suae. (Suarez: 
Disputationes , LIX, art. 4) 


First of all, in order to make us understand the violence 
and ferocity of the man of sin, and the skill with which he 
will conduct the war he has undertaken against the saints, St. 
John the Apostle depicts him in Apocalypse 13 under the figure 
of a monstrous beast, having ten heads or diadems on his horns, 
and, written on each of these diadems, the name of a blasphemy. 
According to interpreters, these ten heads and ten_ diadems 
signify ten dependent kings, who will be his lieutenants and 
will act as the executors of his trickery and cruelty. - - 

Moreover, St. John tells us that he will be invested with 
absolute sovereignty, and that his power will extend over all 
tribes and peoples, over men of every nation and language. [58] 

As he succeeds in overcoming the saints by a persecution 
carried to the extreme limit, he will simultaneously give free 
rein to all kinds of licentiousness, and there will be no 
freedom except for evil. 

Lastly, he will be a master in the occult sciences and in 
the art of magic, and, through the agency of demons, he will 
perform wonderful deeds, which deluded men will take for true 
miracles. [59] 

The first of these miracles mentioned by St. John will be 
an apparent resurrection. In one of the wars where Antichrist 
will appear as if mounted on a chariot of light and fire, he 
will be mortally wounded in the head. For a time he will be 
seen lifeless, apparently dead. Then, suddenly, he will rise, 
and his wouni will be instantaneously healed. At the sight of 
this the deluded men, the unbelievers and free-thinkers of that 
time who, like those of our own day, lacking any faith in the 
supernatural and in revealed truth, will spurn miracles as 
implacably condemned by science and reason - these men will 
give credit to the hoax. They will exclaim, with enthusiasm 
and admiration: "Who is like to the beast? And who shall be 
able to fight with him?" 

Secondly, the man of sin will make fire come down from 
Heaven, in order to create the belief that he is the master of 
nature, the ruler of seasons, and that he has dominion over the 
sky and the stars. [60] 

[5 8] Apocalypse 13:5,8. 

[59] Apocalypse 13. 

[60] It is well known that the devils, deprived of their orig- 
inal beauty and goodness, have not lost any of their powers. 
They can act on the elements, condense clouds and vapours, 
project lightning and unleash storms. As for miracles properly 
so called, God alone can perform them. A miracle is a dero- 
gation of the .laws of nature which surpasses every created 
force, whether human or angelic. Thus, Antichrist will not 
work true miracles, but only false and apparent ones. It is 
said in the Sibylline Books , lib. Ill, Oraculum, that he will 
make the sun stand still, walk upon the sea and move mountains. 
These marvels will all be mere illusions, a sort of mirage, 
similar to those worked by devils when, through the agency of 
their magicians and mediums, they fascinate men, befuddle their 
imagination and sight, to the extent of making objects seem to 
them very different from what they are. 


Thirdly, he will make a statue speak; demons will use 
a tree or a lifeless piece of wood as an instrument, with 
the aid of which they will utter their fabrications and 
false oracles. Pieces of furniture will also be seen to 
move and run around of themselves, mountains will change 
their position in an instant, and demons, transformed into 
angels of light, will appear in the air. 

Then, by an incomprehensible judgement of God, the 
free-thinkers and the great sceptics of the last times 
will take these impostures and conjuring tricks seriously. 
Dupes of their own presumption and credulity, they will 
plunge headlong into all the follies of necromancy and 
divination, thus vindicating, in the face of the world, 
the oracle of the Sacred Books: "Now, the Spirit mani- 
festly saith that in the last times some shall depart from 
the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines 
of devils: attendentes spiritibus erroris et doctrinis 
doemoniorum. " [61] 

Lastly, it is written that the pride of the man of 
sin will be boundless. He will open his mouth in blas- 
phemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle 
and the saints in Heaven. Daniel says that he will think 
himself entitled to abolish times and laws, et putabit 
quod possit mutare tempora et leges. [62] That is, he will 
suppress feasts and Sunday observance, alter the order of 
months and the length and division of weeks, and remove 
Christian names from the calendar, replacing them with the 
emblems of the lowest animals. In a word, this counter- 
feit of Christ will be an atheist in the full sense of the 
term. He will make away with the Cross and every relig- 
ious symbol; as Daniel again declares, he will substitute 
abominable rites for the Christian sacrifice in every 
church. Pulpits will be silent; teaching and education 
will be lay, compulsory and godless. Jesus Christ will be 
banished from the child's cradle, from the altar where 
spouses are united, from the bedside of the dying. Over 
the whole surface of the earth, worship of any god other 
than this christ of Satan will not be tolerated. 

In His impenetrable designs, God will allow men to 
undergo this supreme, terrible trial in order to teach 
them how great the power of the devil is, and how immense 
their own weakness; He desired to announce it to us so 
that we might prepare ourselves even now to sustain it, by 
having recourse to Him through prayer, and by providing 
ourselves with the spiritual weapons of charity and faith. 
In addition, Antichrist is destined to bring out, in its 
splendour, the fidelity and constancy of those whose names 
are written in the Book of Life, those whom all his vio- 
lence and wiles will not succeed in daunting. 

On the other hand, it is certain that the duration 
and bitterness of this persecution will make it the ulti- 
mate criterion for discerning the elect from the reprobate 
since it will also be the ruin of many whose perseverance 
will fail; thus it will be a test "set for the ruin and 
for the resurrection of many.... that out of many hearts 
thoughts may be revealed. " [63] •-.----,- 

[61] 1 Timothy 4:1. 
[62] Daniel 7:25. 
[63] Luke 2:34,35. 


Apostasies will be numerous, and courage will become 
rare. It is written that the powers of the heavens will 
be shaken, and the stars of the firmament will fall. In 
other words, the leaders of peoples will be seen to bend 
the knee before the reigning idol, and,~-what is still more 
lamentable, among the exponents of science, the luminaries 
of theology- and the oracles of sacred eloquence, a large 
number will abandon the truth, andflet themselves be 
carried along with the current of depravity. 

Again, St. John speaks of a strange, mysterious 
character which all, "both little and great, rich and 
poor, freemen and bondmen, " [64] will be obliged to have on 
their right hand or on the forehead; this mark will be a 
sign of apostasy, attesting that all those who bear it, 
whether to please the master, or to escape his wrath, have 
renounced the true Christ, and enlisted for ever under the 
banner of His enemy. [65] 

Those who bear this degrading mark will enjoy the 
advantages of fortune in abundance; they will have the 
high salaries, the public offices, and a multiplicity of 
pleasures and of all desirable possessions; but those who 
refuse to clothe themselves with this abominable seal will 
be outlawed. It is written that "no man might buy or 
sell, but he that hath the character, or the name of 
beast, or the number of his name." All those who do not 
have this mark will be forbidden to draw water from the 
public fountains, and will even be unworthy to open their 
eyes to the light of day, and breathe the pure air of the 

The tribulation will be great "such as hath not been 
from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall 
be. "[66] The just will be dishonoured and despised; they 
will be called fools and disturbers of the peace; they 
will be accused of trampling upon honour and patriotism, 
by refusing to acclaim the greatest man ever to have 
appeared in the world, the incomparable genius who has 
raised human civilization to the zenith of perfection and 

If the just were not to be sustained by a special 
assistance from God, there would not be a single one who 

[64] Apocalypse 13:17,18. 

[6 5] This sign is called a character, because it will be im- 
printed on the flesh. The Apostle informs us that the beast 
will compel both young and old to carry it. By "the young" are 
meant the children who will be born; for the son of perdition 
and his false prophets will abolish all baptism given in the 
name of the Holy Trinity. They will take pains to force all 
children to accept the character of the beast on the forehead, 
and reject the baptism instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. 
(Holzhauser: Interpretation de 1 'Apocalypse , bk.6, ch.13.) 

[66] Matthew 24:21. 


could withstand the violence of such temptation: Ita ut in 
errorem inducantur (si fieri potest) etiam electi. [67] 

In the dreadful days of the great French Revolution, 
there were still some havens, places of safety open to 
convicts and outlaws. The countryside was friendly; there 
were impenetrable forests and hidden, isolated paths. 
However, in the period we are engaged in describing, 
science and human discoveries will have reached their 
zenith, and the surface of the earth will be dotted with 
telegraph wires and railways. Every mountain will have 
been bored. There will be no more rocks or caves, islands 
or deserts, where freedom can expect a refuge. The home 
itself will no longer be safe: for i't is said that 
"brother shall betray his brother unto death, and the 
father his son. "[6 8] 

It is not usual for the Sacred Books, when they 
reveal the future to us, to go into such precise, minute 
detail. The prophets speak to us only enigmatically, and 
in abbreviated form. In general, they limit themselves to 
marking out the main lines of future events. However, so 
far as the final combat waged against the saints is con- 
cerned, the inspired Apostles have followed the maxim, 
mala proevisa minus feriunt; and they have neglected 
nothing which might strengthen the just during those days 
of trial and great calamity. 

Thus they teach us that, at that time, the East will 
once more become the focal point of politics and human 
affairs, and that the impostor, possessed with the blind, 
maniacal passion to desecrate the holiest places (those 
which have been the scene of the labours and suffering of 
the God-Man), will establish his royalty at Jerusalem. 
For our consolation, they tell us that God will shorten 
the duration of his power, limiting it to forty-two months 
or three and a half years, menses quadraginta duos. 

The number given in the Sacred Books probably does 
not express the length of time which the man of sin will 
need in order to conquer the earth and reach the zenith of 
his omnipotence. It is not reasonable to suppose that, 
even with the aid of the superhuman and satanic powers 
which will be at his disposal, he will be able to become 
master of the earth in a single day. It is to be supposed 
that he will only attain the fullness of his sovereignty 
gradually, and will require a longish period to subdue the 
nations and envelop the whole world in the murky web of 
his trickery and seduction. All we know from St. John and 
Daniel is that his dominion over men "of every race, tribe 
and language" will subsist "usque ad tempus, et tempora et 
dimidium temporis, " that is, one year, two more years and 
half a year. Daniel, in chapter 12, tells us: "From the 
time when the continual sacrifice shall be taken away and 
the abomination unto desolation shall be set up, there 
shall be a thousand two hundred ninety days. "[69] Hence, 
it follows that the point when Christ will no longer be 

[6 7] Matthew 24:24.; 

: 168] Mark 13:12. --..,-- 

[69] Et a tempore cum ablatum fuerit juge sacrificium, et 
posita fuerit abominatio in desolationem, dies mille ducenti 
nonaginta. (Daniel 12) 


present on our altars, offering Himself as a victim to His 
Father's justice in order to make reparation for men's 
crimes, is to" be reckoned from the day when Antichrist has 
obtained universal dominion: only then will the unbloody 
sacrifice of the altar cease to be celebrated; but, until 
that day, and during the time taken by Antichrist to 
achieve his - kingship, the sacrifice of the mass will 
continue to subsist. 

St. John indicates the name, of Antichrist; but he 
deems it proper to tell us only in the form of numerals. 
We know that in various languages numbers can be trans- 
lated into letters of the alphabet and, conversely, the 
letters of the alphabet into numbers. So, St. John tells 
us that, in a language which he does not make known to us, 
the name of the beast is expressed by the number 666. 

The Fathers and Doctors have laboured to discover the 
key to this number, and to ascertain the name hidden 
.beneath this mysterious number; [70] but their investi- 
gations have come to nothing. It is possible to imagine a 
vast number of different names the letters of which, 
according to the way they are put together, express the 
number indicated by St. John. We cannot go beyond the 
view of St. Irenaeus, who assures us that the Holy Ghost 
presented the name of Antichrist in the form of this 
enigmatic number, because He wanted its true meaning to 
remain unknown until the fulfilment of His prophecy, the 
day when it would be in the interest of men for Antichrist 
to be revealed to them. Then, says St. John, "he that 
hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. 
Qui habet intellectum, computat numerum Bestiae. " [71] 

[70] In his Interpretation de 1' Apocalypse , the holy and learn- 
ed Holzhauser remarks that, in the Greek language, which was 
the one used by the St. John the Apostle, the word dyceuoq , 
meaning "converse", >• when rendered by a figure, corresponds to 
the number 666. Thus, in his view, the number 666 designates 
the characteristic quality of the man of sin, not his own name. 
It is difficult to believe that St. John would have announced 
the number 666 as something profound and mysterious, an impene- 
trable enigma, as it were, if the meaning were so simple and 
evident. In that case, the Apostle would merely have informed 
us that Antichrist would be the converse of Christ. Holzhauser 
adds that the beast's number, 666, is a number of months which 
make fifty-five and a half years. On the basis of this fact, 
he tells us that Antichrist was born in 1855, that he will live 
for fifty-five years, and that his persecution will take place 
around 1908. It must be said that these are altogether arbit- 
rary conjectures and suppositions. Men no less holy and 
learned than Holzhauser have often indulged in the same calcu- 
lations, and have constantly been mistaken. The Church has not 
taught us anything on the time of Antichrist's coming. There 
is not a single passage in Holy Scripture which supports such 

[71] Apocalypse 13:16. 


St. Paul tells us that God is faithful, for He has 
made a pact with temptation, and does not permit man to be 
tested beyond his strength. Here, the temptation will 
exceed the normal conditions and laws of mankind. It 
befits the mercy of God that the remedy should be pro- 
portionate to the extent of the evil. Now the means of 
succour foretold is the most superhuman and extraordinary, 
the most alien to the rules of history and the ordinary 
workings of Providence, of all those that Heaven has sent 
man since the Incarnation . 

Just when the tempest is at its most violent, when 
the Church is leader less, when the unbloody sacrifice has 
everywhere ceased and everything seems humanly lost, two 
witnesses, St. John tells us, will be seen to arise. 

These two witnesses will be two strange men, appear- 
ing suddenly amidst the world, without anyone being able 
to say of what birth or origin they are, nor from what 
place or family they have come . 

This is how St. John speaks of them in the eleventh 
chapter of the Apocalypse: 

"And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they 
shall prophesy a thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed 
in sackcloth. These are the two olive-trees and the two 
candlesticks that stand before the Lord of the earth." [72] 

No tongue can express the sheer amazement which will 
grip mankind, at the sight of these two men, strangers to 
our passions and affairs, one of them having lived six 
thousand years, the other thirty centuries, in some eth- 
ereal region or other, beneath. firmaments and upon spheres 
inaccessible to our senses and understanding. Yet, 
neither of these witnesses is alien to the human family. 
One of these candlesticks and olive-trees is Henoch, the 
great-great-grandfather of Noe, the direct ancestor of the 
whole human race. The other is the prophet Elias who, as 

[7 2] St* John does not tell us expressly that the two witnesses 
whom he mentions will be Henoch and Elias, but it is clear from 
the context that, by the two candlesticks and the two olive- 
trees, he does not mean any two saints or preachers, but two 
definite personages, endowed with an extraordinary power and 
holiness. Now - pondering all the facts and circumstances 
foretold to us about the life and death of these personages, 
and recalling all that we are told about them by Scripture, 
especially in Ecclesiasticus 4 8 and by the prophet Malachias, 
concerning the mission they will one day be called upon to 
fulfil - Bede,- St. Anselm, St. Augustine and a large number of 
the Fathers assure us that the two witnesses of whom the Apoc- 
alypse speaks are none other than Henoch and Elias, and that 
they were miraculously preserved from death for no other pur- 
pose- than to fight against Antichrist, and bear testimony to 
Jesus Christ, at- the end of the world. 


the Saviour has said, is destined to restore all things. 
[73] He will come a second time to stem the tide of 
wickedness, more reckless and unrestrained than it was in 
the days of Achab. It will also be the hour of the redemp- 
tion of_ -Israel. The great prophet will convince the 
posterity of Abraham that the Messias has come, and will 
remove the -veil of ignorance and darkness which has lain 
heavy upon their eyes for nineteen centuries. 

What sort of appearance and bearing will these strang- 
ers from another age present? What venerable majesty will 
shine forth from their persons? What inspired language^ 
will flow from their lips? Holy Scripture does not tell 
us. It teaches us that they will prophesy for one thous- 
and two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth, 
their garments and features bearing the marks of humility 
and penance. According to Daniel, the persecution of 
Antichrist will last for one thousand two hundred and 
ninety days; so the preaching of Henoch and Elias will be 
thirty days shorter. Hence it follows that they will 
appear in the period when the persecution is unleashed 
with the greatest violence. How, within the space of time 
set for their mission, will they manage to give their 
testimony in all inhabited places, and cover the whole 
extent of the earth? We answer that it will not be 
necessary for them to visit every town; it will be enough 
for them to appear in the principal ones, and for their 
preaching to be heard in the capitals and main centres of 
population where Antichrist has been present and has 
exercised his most powerful fascination. Furthermore, it 
is unlikely that Henoch and Elias will be constantly 
together: it is more probable that they will preach 
separately, until, by a command from God, or following a 
providential inspiration, they suddenly come together for 
the final battle. 

[73] Cornelius a Lapide tells us that it is a certain truth, 
almost of faith, fidei proximum , that Henoch and Elias did not 
die. Tertullian, in book LVIII on the Resurrection, calls them 
"candidates of Eternity", in order to make us understand that 
they are freed from all misery and suffering, and incapable of 
sin. St. Irenaeus, bk.IV, ch.V, calls them coauspicantes 
immortalitatem , which means that they have the certain presage 
and omen of immortality. Neither Henoch nor Elias are yet 
glorified in their bodies; since they continue to be enveloped 
in flesh, from which, like us, they will one day be separated 
by death. The Fathers teach that Henoch was taken up into 
paradise, which is also the teaching of Ecclesiasticus 44:16. 
At the Flood, when the earthly paradise was submerged, Henoch 
was taken up into some unknown region of heaven, where Elias 
accompanied him when he was borne away on a fiery chariot. In 
their dwelling-place they live absorbed in the contemplation of 
divine things, in a state which is not that of heavenly bliss 
but in which they are inundated with divine consolations and 
enjoy continuous repose. As they have, in a certain sense, 
left this life and are no longer subject to trial, they cannot 
acquire new merits, nor grow in holiness. When, however, they 
return to earth at the end of the times, they will revert to 
the conditions of the present life, will again become liable to 
undergo suffering and, once more, will gain merit, whether by 
fighting Antichrist or by bearing witness, through their preach- 
ing and death, to Jesus Christ of Nazareth. 


At first, no doubt, incredulous men will refuse to 
admit their identity. They will seek to lay hold of them, 
and punish them as mountebanks and sham visionaries; 
public opinion will shower them with satirical barbs and 
mockery, and the organs of publicity will persist in 
ignoring them, and pretend not to know of them. The per- 
secutor, foaming with rage, will try to have them put to 
death; but, as long as their mission lasts, they will be 
guarded by a superior force. Here is what St. John, 
chapter 11, verse 5, says: "And if any man will hurt 
them, fire shall come out of their mouths and shall devour 
their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, in this 
manner must he be slain. These have power to shut heaven, 
that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; and they 
have powers over waters, to turn them into blood and to 
strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." 

The Gospel is not so specific about the result and 
efficacy of the mission of these two great witnesses; but 
it may be taken as certain that they will undeceive a 
large mass of the deluded, and bring back most of those 
whom fear or ambition had enticed from worship of the true 
God. Indeed their preaching will need to have a power 
which no other words since those of the Gospel have ever 
had, since it will overcome the obstinacy of the Jews, 
who, bowing to the lustre of the marvels and the evidence 
of the facts, will return beneath the staff of the Shep- 
herd of shepherds, to form with the Christians one flock 
and one fold. [74] 

However, God gives His graces with due proportion. 
When the light has been given, when men have had all the 
time they need to distinguish -truth from error, God, in 
His wisdom, will then suspend the miracle. That is how 
Providence invariably acts. So it was of old with Samson 
when, once the Philistines had been humbled and defeated, 
God took away from him His spirit and the stupendous 
strength with which He had endowed him. Heaven proceeded 
again in the same way with Joan of Arc: once her mission 
had been fulfilled, when she had routed the English and 
placed the crown back upon the head of Charles VII, her 
genius and military talent seemed to pale; she was taken 
prisoner, and reverted to the . normal circumstances of 
human life. So shall it be in the case of Henoch and 
Elias. Besides, the miracle, if prolonged, would have no 
other effect than to confirm iri~ their obduracy stubborn 
men who had refused to receive their words with a submis- 
sive ear and heart. In short, the two witnesses are not 
dead, although one of them is six thousand and the other 
three thousand years old, and it is necessary that they 
should seal their testimony by the shedding of their 
blood, and be subjected to the law of human nature from 
which Christ Himself did not desire to be spared. 

[74] Qui receptus est in- turbine ignis.. . lenire iracundiam 
Domini conciliare cor patris ad filium, et restituere tribus 
Israel . (Ecclesiastes 48:9,10)' ' . . ~~ " - - 

Sicut passuri sunt Henoch et~ Elias, qui ultimo tempore 
futuri sunt apostoli. nitti . enim debent ante Christum ad 
praeparandum populum Dei, et uniendas omnes Ecclesias, ad 
resistendum antichristo, quos et persecutiones pati et occidi 
Apocalypsis testatur. (St. Ambrose: To the Corinthians 4) 


Here r then, is what will take place, says St. John, 
in the chapter already quoted: 

- "And when they shall have finished their testimony, 
- the beast that ascendeth out of the abyss shall make war 
against them and shall overcome them and kill them. And 
their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city 
which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt; where their 
Lord also was crucified. ' And they of the tribes and 
peoples and tongues and nations shall see their bodies for 
three days and a half; and they shall not suffer their 
bodies to be laid in sepulchres. And they that dwell upon 
the earth shall rejoice over them and make merry; and 
shall send gifts one to another, because these two pro- 
phets tormented them that dwelt upon the earth. And after 
three days and a half, the spirit, of life from God entered 
into them; and they stood upon their feet; and great fear 
fell upon them that saw them... And at that hour there was 
made a great earthquake; and the tenth part of the city 
fell. And there were slain in the earthquake, names of 
men, seven thousand; and the rest were cast into a fear 
and gave glory to the God of heaven." 

St. John does not tell us what the fate of Antichrist 
will be, but St. Paul teaches that "the Lord Jesus shall 
kill [him] with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy 
[him] with the brightness of his coming. "[75] 

Some have concluded from this passage that Christ is 
to come down in person to strike His great adversary, and 
that this will be the day when He will appear in His glory 
and majesty. This interpretation is incorrect. 
St. Thomas and St. John Chrysostom explain the words "quem 
Dominus Jesus destruet illustratione adventus sui" in the 
sense that Christ will strike Antichrist by dazzling him 
with a brightness, which will be like an omen and sign of 
His Second Coming. St. Paul does not at all say that 
Christ will kill him with His own hands, but by the spirit 
of His mouth, "spiritu oris sui," that is, as St. Thomas 
explains, by virtue of His power, as a result of His 
command: whether, as some believe, executing it through 
the co-operation of St. Michael the Archangel, or having 
some other agent, visible or invisible, spiritual or 
inanimate, intervene. [76] What is certain is that Satan 
will be hurled back into the darkness of the abyss, the 

[7 5] Quem Dominus Jesus interficiet spiritu oris sui et des- 
truet illustratione adventus sui. 

[7 6] Cornelius a Lapide and Holzhauser say that, at the sight 
of the triumph of Henoch and Elias, Antichrist will be struck 
numb with fear; he will quiver with rage, and, in his over- 
weening pride and infernal presumption, will attempt to main- 
tain the nations in error by a novel and more sacrilegious 
hoax. With the aid of demons, he will rise majestically into 
the air from the Mount of Olives, and strive to reach Henoch 
and Elias in order to cast them down to the ground. At that 
grave moment, the virtue of the Almighty will strike him and 
throw him into the utmost ignominy and confusion. This inter- 
pretation of the Venerable Holzhauser is only an opinion, but it 
is possible, and does not conflict with the sacred text. 


reign of the man of evil will be utterly destroyed, and 
his power, which aspired to extend up to the heavens, will 
vanish like a cloud of smoke. 

Will the resurrection of the body and the Last Judge- 
ment follow close upon that great event? Holy Scripture 
is silent on this point, and the Church has not wished to 
define anything. Among the interpreters of Holy Writ, 
some affirm and others deny it. Suarez expresses the view 
that after the death of Antichrist the world will not 
subsist more than forty-five days. He bases his opinion 
on the prophecy of Daniel who, after announcing that the 
persecution of the man of sin will last for one thousand, 
two hundred and ninety days, adds these words: Beatus qui 
exspectat et pervenit usque ad dies 1335 . [77] Happy he 
who has hope and holds firm until the one thousand, three 
hundred and thirty-fifth day. 

This opinion, however, does not seem to be the most 
certain. The most authoritative view, and the one which 
appears to be most in harmony with Holy Scripture, is 
that, after the fall of Antichrist, the Catholic Church 
will once again enter upon a period of prosperity and 
triumph. In fact, does not St. Paul, the inspired 
Apostle - of all the sons of Israel the one who saw most 
clearly into the future and destiny of his people - seem 
explicitly to affirm this doctrine? Does he not affirm it 
when - recalling the effects of the grace and blessing 
obtained by the conversion of the Jews, who, in accordance 
with the prophecy of Malachias, [7 8] will not be brought 
back to the truth until they are enlightened by the preach- 
ing of Henoch and Elias - he exclaims, moved by a holy 
transport: "Now, if the offence of them be the riches of 
the world and the diminution of them the riches of the 
Gentiles, how much more the fulness of them?" [79] 

These words are precise, and seem to admit of no 
doubt. They are in harmony with those of St. John 
(Apocalypse 15:2) : 

"And I saw... them that had overcome the beast and his 
image and the number of his name. . .singing the canticle of 
Moses the servant of God, and the canticle of the Lamb." 

[77] Nam licet intercedant, inter mortem antichristi et 
adventum Christi, aliqui dies, verbi gratia decern aut viginti, 
considerato modo loquendi scripturae, vix existimari potest 
illud tempus fore diuturnius. Deinde multi colligunt ex Daniel 
12, tempus illud futurum 45 dierum, quos Deus concedet homini- 
bus, ad agendam poenitentiam post mortem antichristi. (Suarez: 
Disputationes , LIV, section II) - • 

[78] "Et convertet cor patrum ad _filios et cor filiorum ad 
patres . eorum. " In this passage, Malachias speaks of the same 
personage described in Ecclesiasticus 48; and the similarity of 
the terms shows that he is indeed referring to Elias. . _ _ _ 

[79] Romans 11:12. „ '-" _ 


In other words, the Christians and the remnant of the 
Jews henceforth have one spirit and one faith, they address 
the same praises and blessings to the Son of God and, 
together, proclaim His glory, saying: "Great and wonderful 
are thy works, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are thy 
ways, King of ages." [80] 

Is it really credible that the day when all. people 
Will be united in this long-sought harmony will be the one 
when the heavens shall pass away with great violence, that 
the period when the Church Militant enters her fullness, 
will coincide with that of the final catastrophe? Would 
Christ cause the Church to be born again, in all her glory 
and all the splendour of her beauty, only to dry up forth- 
with the springs of her youth and her inexhaustible fec- 

However, if it may be granted that, after Antichrist, 
the end of the world will not come for some centuries yet, 
the same cannot be said of the supreme crisis which shall 
bring about the great unity; for, if we study but a moment 
the signs of the present time, the menacing symptoms of 
our political situation and revolutions, as well as the 
progress of civilization and the increasing advance of 
evil, corresponding to the progress of civilization and 
the discoveries in the material order, we cannot fail to 
foresee the proximity of the coming of the man of sin, and 
of the days of desolation foretold by Christ. [81] 

[80] Et cantantes canticum Moysi servi Dei, et canticum agni, 
dicentes: Magna et mirabilia sunt opera tua, Domine Deus omni- 
potens; justae et verae sunt viae tuae, rex saeculorum. 
(Apocalypse 15:3) 

[81] Two opinions were current in the early centuries regarding 
the coming of Antichrist. The first was that of the commentat- 
ors who, on the basis of the text of an apocryphal epistle of 
St. Barnabas, maintained that the world would last six thousand 
years, and not one day more or less. St. Barnabas is reported 
to have said: Itaque , filii , in sex diebus , hoc est in sex 
ann orum railibus , consummabuntur omnia , and, in a comment on 
this passage, St. Hilary says: Quotguot enim diebus hie factus 
est mundus , tot et millenis annis consummatur . Let us observe, 
first, that the Church does not place this letter of St. Barn 
abas among the inspired books; secondly, that, without departing 
from biblical truth, it is possible, beginning at the present 
era, to make the period when the creation took place vary, from 
six thousand to eight thousand years. According to very authen 
tic, ancient documents recently discovered, and to serious, 
chronological studies undertaken in our own times, it would 
appear likely that it is now several centuries since the end of 
the sixth millenium of the creation of the world. So, if, at 
present, we are in the seventh or eighth millenium since the 
creation of Adam, this would be proof that the prophecy con- 
tained in the alleged letter of Saint Barnabas, which Saint 
Hilary is said to have believed, is, like the letter itself, 
erroneous and apocryphal. [Note by the publishers of the 
English edition. There are in fact no documents nor any other 
evidence which conclusively show that the world is older than 
six thousand years, and there is a very considerable weight of 
Church tradition to the effect that it is not.] 

Another opinion, held for a long time from the fourth to 
the tenth century, was that Antichrist would appear immediately 
(Footnote continued on following page) 



Holy Scripture gives us three main features which 
will mark the dominance of Antichrist. First, he will be 
emperor and absolute master of the universe Secondly, he 
will have Jerusalem as his capital. Thirdly, he will be 
as clever as he is violent, and the war which he will wage 
against the saints will be, primarily, one of deceit and 


fFnotnote continued from pr evious page) 
after the fall of the Roman Empire. This opinion was based on 
?ne meaning then ascribed to the Apostle's word "discessio, in 
Greek 6nootaoia. The term was interpreted in the sense of a 
political division, which would break the power of the Roman 
Empire and remove the nations from its dominion for ever In 
fact in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul 
favs- "et scitis quid detineat." Several Fathers and Doctors 

!J- tauaht that this "quid detineat" meant the Roman Empire, 
obriqu^lTreferred'to by\he Apostle so as not to arouse ha tred 
and offend the touchy sensitivities of those in power, ana 
included that the coming of Antichrist «™™^J u l\Ze a n d 
the Roman Empire had completely disappeared St-Augiw tine and 
St. Thomas consider that, being restricted to .the J^era! 
sense, this interpretation given to the passage from the 
Apostle lacks any serious and sound basis. In the first place, 
it seems strange that God should have desired to bind the des 
tiny of His Church to that of an earthly empire. The Church is 
cabled to win over all the peoples of the earth, and to gather 
them beneath her staff and within her bosom. It is inadmis 
- ethtshe .should be reduced to keeping within the confines 
of any empire whatever. This view, moreover, stands in mani 
fest contradiction to the facts. The collapse of the Roman 
Emoire ha long since been consummated. Under Constantme, the 
SSSe divided' into two branches, the Eastern and the West ern 
It revived in Europe under Charlemagne. At the end of the I4tn 
centuS there appeared Vincent Ferrer, the Angel of the Apocaly- 
pse Y He predicted that the Last Judgement was at hand, and 
?hat before forty years had elapsed, the premonitory signs of 
the final catastrophe would be seen. As a matter of fact, 
thirty years after* the death of Vincent Ferrer, Mohammed II 
took possession of Constantinople, and suppressed the eastern 
branch of the Roman Empire for ever ?** ^l**™ £™f™T- 
tinued to decline until the Emperor Rudolph, head of the Haps 
burg dynasty, who received his diadem from Christ through the 

intermediary of the successor of St. Peter. Petra dedit Petro, 

Petrus diadema Rudolpho. K™„^h+- +-n an 

In our century, the Roman Empire was finally brought to an 
end by the abolition of the electorates and the renunciation of 
the title? "King of the Romans", which Napoleon I obtained from 
Se Emperor FraLis II. Nevertheless, the ; opinion which we are 
contesting is true if it is understood- ma dfe en 
and if the expression "Roman Empire" is applied to the Catholic 
Surch, which has succeeded the Caesars. The Apostle's words 
"nisi 'venerft discessio" would then be understood « meaning 
the present divorce between the nations and the Church, the 
separation of politics from religion, of Church from State. On 
?hfs interpretation, legal atheism that-is, the destruction of 
the public reign of Jesus Christ, the elimination of Christian 
( Footnote continued on fo llowing page) 


First, Antichrist will be lord of the world. It is 
abundantly clear that the effect of all the events of the 
present time is to prepare the social setting in which the 
dominance of the man of sin will be exercised. -- • •■ 

On the one hand, the railway has reduced barriers and 
triumphed over distance. The Jteiegraph allows i a despot to 
transmit his orders from one point of the ..universe to the 
other with the instahtaneousness -"""of. thought. Moreover, 
the peoples of the diverse races are- mingling: Russian and 
American, Japanese and Chinese meet on the same ships, rub 
shoulders and cross one another's paths, in our great 
cities, and in the commercial centres of Europe, Cali- 
fornia and Equatorial African 

Already, the distant peoples of India are adopting 
our inventions, casting rifled guns and beginning to build 
armoured ships and arsenals. China - that vast empire 
swarming with people, where, each day, the seas and rivers 
engulf a huge excess of human beings whom the rich, fer- 
tile soil can no longer feed - she, too, has her mechan- 
ics, her engineers, and is learning our strategy and 
industrial progress. Now, have our latest wars not shown 
that, at the present time, the issue of battles lies above 
all in numbers, and that, in armies, as in the realm of 
politics, what determines success and wins the victory is 
the brutal, inexorable law of superior numbers? 

( Footnote continued from previous page ) 
ity, its laws and institutions, is the mystery of iniquity 
announced by St. Paul. 

In fact, it is undeniable that all governments at the 
present time are at work accomplishing this abominable opera- 
tion of apostasy, and that they are striving to banish Jesus 
Christ from the school, the army, and from the very abode of 
justice! Are not His cross and His adorable name blasphemed 
and held up as a symbol of ignorance and fanaticism? Has not 
the Church been outlawed and excluded from the councils of 
governments and deliberative assemblies? Are not all the laws 
which are formulated marked with the seal of odious intolerance 
towards her, and have they any other purpose than to diminish 
her authority and influence? Blasphemy is raised to the level 
of a privilege and a right; the Roman Pontiff, dispossessed of 
his principality, has been a prisoner for eleven years. Para- 
llel with the destruction of Christianity, we see the re- 
appearance of paganism, in the form of base materialism, marked 
by the exaltation of all that flatters the senses, and the 
glorification of the basest and most brutish instincts; a 
paganism which pervades industry, the arts and literature, and 
predominates in all public institutions. Christianity is 
declared to be the enemy and, at the same time, materialism is 
presented to the aspirations of peoples as the moving force of 
progress, and the God of the future . Now, if the extremes of 
evil do not meet with a prompt and vigorous response, if the 
defection continues on its course, it may be predicted that 
this war on God must inevitably end in total, consummated 
apostasy. It is but a small step from the cult of the state, 
that is, the utilitarian spirit and the worship of the God- 
State which is the religion of our time, to the worship of the 
individual man. We have almost reached that point... and, 
proceeding from these facts and observations, we must conclude 
that the hypothesis of the proximity of Antichrist's coming is 
more probable than the hypothesis which considers his coming as 


Thus, the hour bids to be not far off when these 
millions of barbarians who populate the east and north of 
Asia will have at their disposal more soldiers, more 
ammunition and more military leaders than all other 
peoples; and the day can be foreseen when, having become 
fully conscious of their number and strength, they will 
hurl themselves in countless hordes upon our Europe, 
enfeebled and forsaken by God. [82] There will then be 
invasions more terrible than those of the Vandals and 
Huns... Provinces will be pillaged, rights violated, and 
small nations destroyed and ground down like dust. Then, 
a vast agglomeration of all the inhabitants of the earth 
will be observed, under the sceptre of a single leader, 
who will be either Antichrist, or one of his immediate 
predecessors. That day will see the obsequies of human 

The unity of all peoples will be rebuilt, for the 
last time, upon the ruins of all the suppressed national- 
ities. The empire of evil will be accomplished. Divine 
Providence will scourge the world, by subjecting it body 
and soul to one master, the supreme head of the Masonic 
lodges, who will be moved solely by hatred of men and 
contempt of God. 

Accordingly, any careful observer of the events of 
the present time cannot escape the conviction that every- 
thing is being done to bring about a social environment 
where the man of sin, by combining in his person all the 
depravity and every false doctrine of his age, will be 
produced spontaneously and effortlessly, like the para- 
sitical tapeworm which breeds naturally in gangrenous 
flesh and organs. 

Yet the apparently incomprehensible thing which, at 
first sight, no sign seems to presage, is that the seat of 
his empire will be Jerusalem. 

Well, it is easy to see that, if the materialistic, 
atheistic civilization, the impending coming of which the 
free-thinkers and the irreligious Press are always pred- 
icting, ever dawns on the world, its centre of action and 
seat of public power will be Jerusalem. 

In fact, when the Christian Faith has finally died 
out in the hearts of men - when pleasure and well-being 
have become the gods of the day - human activity will then 
have one single goal: the power of the State; one single 
lever and stimulus: public opinion; one inspiration and 
driving force: and this stimulus, this sinew, this driving 
force, will be gold. Gold will take precedence over 
religion and morality, becoming the basis of politics and 
the key-stone of all institutions. The pontiffs and kings 

[8 2] Cornelius a Lapide, at a time when there was yet no 
question of our great discoveries, affirmed that Antichrist 
would have innumerable armies under his command: "Instar arenae 
maris; " (Apocalypse 20) "et numerus equestris exercitus vicies 
millies^ dena millia." (Apocalypse 9:16) According to the 
interpretation of the learned Cornelius, Antichrist's cavalry 
alone will consist of two hundred million men. How much 
greater will be the number of his infantry! (Cornelius a 
Lapide: Commentary on the Epistle to the Thessalonians , p. 164) 


will be the financiers: and the people which possesses the 
most gold will be the one which will soon exercise the 
greatest control over us. 

Now, after fifty centuries of existence, nineteen of 
them in misfortune, a certain people is found everywhere, 
scattered in every- quarter of the globe, meeting on the 
most distant shores, mingling with the whole human family, 
still enduring, still in search of their Messias, dreaming 
of "rebuilding their temple and, despite all changes and 
upheavals, unshakable in their homogeneity and m the 
pursuit of their goal. 

It must be said, in justice to them, that they are an 
active, temperate and hard-working race." If we speak of 
them, we do so in the abstract and solely from the point 
of view of their destiny and of their providential and 
historical mission. We should regret if our words were 
seen as an attack upon this people of illustrious ancest- 
ry, which has given to the world Christ, the Apostles and 
the Immaculate Virgin. 

We, Christians" and children of Israel, are closer to 
one another than we think. As one well-known speaker has 
said: Christianity is Judaism with its apex; Judaism is 
Christianity without its apex. 

Nevertheless, the facts are there, and it is impos- 
sible for the Christian philosopher to ignore or disguise 


Now, it is less than a century ago since this people 
was emancipated; and, like a flood which has burst through 
every dyke, they are already at the head of human affairs. 
Novices yesterday to civil and political life, they are 
now dominant everywhere, and nothing can be done in the 
world without them. They bribe and have at their command 
all the advertising agencies and the principal organs of 
the press. They are the creditors of the leading states 
of Europe. The railways, the great inventions, the banks 
and theatres belong to them; they are at the head of the 
great socialist movement which is shaking Russia, Germany, 
France...; they rule in the Danubian principalities, and 
have the casting vote in the high councils of Freemasonry, 
directing their operation and inspiration. [83] 

[83] There are 3,338,000 Jews in Europe, Germany alone having 
1,250,000 and Rumania 500,000. Total number of Jews living xn 
the world: six million. In his book La Judaisation des peuples 
Chretiens , Desmousseau quotes innumerable passages taken from 
L ' U nivers and the Archives Israelites , from which it is clear 
that the theology of liberal Judaism is no different from the 
doctrine and symbolism of the secret, Masonic societies. Hence 
this remarkable admission, made only a few years ago, by a 
British prime minister, who was himself born of Jewish blood: 
"The world is governed by very different personages from what 
is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes... and the 
mighty revolution, which is now being prepared in Germany, and 
will shortly become a second Reformation, greater than the 
first and, accordingly, more destructive of Catholicism, is 
gathering strength under the auspices of the Jews." The 
Chevalier Desmousseau, who published his book in 1869, believes 
he has grounds for saying that, out of the nine members forming 
the supreme council of Freemasonry, five were Israelites. 


-4 2- 

As we write these lines, what is called the anti- 
Semitic question is setting a formidable problem for the 
state, stirring Germany and Central Europe profoundly; the 
point at issue is the progress and ever-increasing in- 
fluence of Judaism, which at present constitutes a threat 
to the civilization, the security and existence ot 
Christian peoples. The question is causing serious con- 
cern to politicians and statesmen; but, since they obstin- 
ately refuse to be guided by the light of Catholicism and 
revealed religion, they are powerless to find the true 

To speak only of Prussia, a recent .computation has 
established that the secondary and higher schools of this 
empire number 87,949 Protestant pupils, 20,147 Catholic 
pupils; and 12,371 Israelites. If we allow for the pro- 
portional figures of the population, there ought to be 
79,000 Protestant pupils, 40,000 Catholic pupils and 1,800 
Israelites. This disproportion gives grounds for serious 
thought. Out of the 1,200 law students at the University 
of Berlin, 600 are Israelites - and it is only six years 
since the doors of the magistracy and civil service were 
opened to Jews. If this advance continues, it is certain 
that, within twenty-five years, three quarters of public 
offices in Germany will be held by Jews. It is a fact 
that, at present, they are already dominant in finance, in 
the press, and are acting like a state within a state. 

Judaism is really a confessional faith and doctrine 
grafted on to one nationality and race. All other peoples 
- Frenchmen, Italians, Germans, Spaniards - if they live 
for a certain time subject to the same government and form 
of administration, if they are ruled by the same laws and 
institutions - do not take long to merge, unite their 
interests, mix their blood and acquire the same aspir- 
ations and patriotic spirit. The Jew is unassimilable: he 
is planted among the other peoples in the position of a 
lodger, as a famous writer has said; or, rather, he con- 
siders himself an exile and captive amidst the other 
nations. Instead of a real motherland, he has only an 
ideal motherland, Palestine. Jerusalem is the only per- 
manent city for which he yearns. In his speeches and 
writings, on every page of his newspapers and reviews, he 
manifests the hope which he has never ceased to cherish of 
rebuilding a new, Jewish Kingdom, either at Jerusalem or 
in the surrounding area. 

So, it is not nationality and blood which prevents 
the Jews from being assimilated and sets them in open 
enmity with other peoples, but religion: not the religion 
of Moses, which they forsook and which they no longer 
know, save in name; but their Talmudic, rabbinical re- 
ligion, a medley of absurdities and rambling fables, rest- 
ing, not upon the Gospel foundation of love of neighbour, 
but upon the -obligation, to pledge a profound hatred of all 
that does not spring from . their blood. Thus an axiom 
acknowledged and raised by Israel to the level of a doc- 
trine and revealed symbol is that, each timehe considers 
it useful to his interests, _ a Jew has a duty to feign 
conversion and to participate exteriorly in the customs 
and practices of a religion other than his own. Thus, it 
has been -found that there are Jews in Germany at the 
present time who undergo baptism and accept Christianity in 
order to„ acquire lands, win for themselves titles of nobil- 

-4 3- 

ity and the more easily attain public positions, and who 
turn these advantages to account for the enrichment of the 
synagogue and the impoverishment of the peoples amidst 
whom they live. [84] 

Modernliberalism, with its futile sentimentality and 
its false egalitarian principles, has contributed more 
than all other errors towards bringing about this prepond- 
erance and overwhelming tide of Jewish influence, which 
the European peoples with good reason fear. [85] 

In the Middle Ages, the Christian nations and. princes, 
enlightened by the Church, had foreseen this great social 
peril. On the one hand, they knew that they had a duty to 
bear with the Jews, and that it was impossible for them to 
make away with them, since the prophecies announce that 
they will subsist until the end of the times, and that 
only then will they return to the true Faith. On the 
other hand, they knew that they could not live in peace 
and security if they granted unrestricted freedom to such 
a grasping, all-pervading race. It is a fact of exper- 
ience that, wherever the Jews establish themselves and 
predominate, they turn into despots and ravaging tyrants. 
That is why, denying them civil and political rights, 
which they would have abused - and do abuse - wherever 
wealth has made them masters, Canon Law granted them 
tolerance. It watched over them so that they might live 
in peace and go quietly about their activities and their 
commercial affairs without harming the Christians with 
whom they mingled; and through these wise measures the 
Jews were for centuries not only protected, but defended 
against the universal hatred, the ferment and exasperation 
of uncomprehending peoples. 

Such is the Jewish question which, at the moment, is 
deeply stirring opinion in Prussia, Austria and Poland; 
its solution seems fraught with the gloomiest auspices. 
Now, if we take Israel as a whole, leaving aside the men 
of that nation who have fallen into rationalism and un- 
belief, the nucleus of the Jewish race have not ceased to 
nourish the same illusions that we have just indicated: 
still expecting a Messias, whom they continue to see as a 
powerful conqueror who will subdue the earth. Not long 
ago, one of the most authoritative exponents of the Talmud 
dared to say: 

[8 4] The Roman review Civilta Cattolica , 1st April 1881, 
quotes the case of a Jew who, in turn, became Protestant, 
Catholic, was ordained priest and, finally, embraced the 
religious life. He himself related that, when he was a child, 
his father had impressed on him the axiom that man "must live 
in accordance with the religion of the country where he dwells, 
so as to spare -himself difficulties and to be less disturbed in 
his person and in his affairs." In fact, the child was able 
marvellously to put this teaching into practice. From being a 
priest and religious, he again became a Protestant and married 
a Protestant woman; not long before, he had had occasion to 
stay in a Mohammedan country, where he had thought it advan- 
tageous to live as an authentic Mohammedan. 

[85] Gambetta is the son of a baptized Jew; Reinach, his secre- 
tary, is an Israelite from Frankfurt. The deputies Naquet and 
See are related to Gambetta by the bond of race, that is, by 
their common Jewish origin. ( Civilta Cattolica , 1st January, 


"A new messianism must be born, a Jerusalem of a new 
order, set reverently between East and West, must replace 
the twofold city of Caesars and Popes. "[86] Furthermore, 
it is an established fact that the majority of orthodox 
believers have retained, as their slogan and watchword, 
the remark once uttered by a famous rabbi: "Jerusalem is 
still the pivot of our hopes and of our faith." 

Now, is it improbable that, in social conditions like 
ours, in which the most dreadful and unforeseen events 
loom up with the rapidity of steam and lightning, there 
may live a man who will take advantage of the chaos into 
which our revolutions will have cast us, and succeed in 
beguiling the masses and gaining mastery over minds and 
hearts; then, pledging himself to regenerate mankind, will 
send out a ral lying-cry to which all his co-religionists 
will respond, thus achieving the conquest of universal 
power, a stupendous dominion over minds and bodies, a 
dominion accepted enthusiastically by the universality of 
misled, seduced peoples? 

Lastly, may we not believe that this powerful and 
wicked man, who will imprison the world in the iron grip 
of an indescribable, unrestrained despotism and unify the 
human race through the enslavement of consciences and the 
humbling of spirits, will be the personage portrayed and 
predicted by Saint John as Antichrist, and that he will be 
the man whom Divine Providence has desired to use in order 
to undeceive Israel, who will at first have acclaimed him 
as her Messias and King? 

Finally, what will be the characteristic marks of the 
persecution of Antichrist? Its main features have been 
described by Cornelius a Lapide and Suarez , in accordance 
with Scripture and the Fathers. 

In the first place, what is certain and almost "of 
faith" is that, of all the persecutions which the Church 
has had to suffer, that of Antichrist will be the most 
terrible and the most violent. 

First, because this persecution will be general, and 
will extend over the whole earth. It is written: "And 
they came upon the breadth of the earth, and encompassed 
the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. "[87] 

St. Augustine, in book 20 of the City of God , explains 
this text from St. John by saying that all the infidels, 
heretics, sectarians and depraved men, scattered over the 
surface of the earth, will unite with Antichrist to make 
war on the saints and to persecute those who are faithful 
to God. 

Secondly, this persecution will be the most severe 
and violent of all - because it will be inspired neither by 
superstition and fanaticism, nor by a blind attachment to 
the worship of idols, as were the persecutions unleashed 
by the pagan emperors. Its purpose will^not be to assuage 

[86] Archives Israelites , 25. ___--■-'_■ 

[8 7] Ascenderunt super latitudinem terrae et circumierunt 
castra sanctorum. (Apocalypse 20:8) 


pride, nor to satisfy an unbridled lust for power, like 
the persecution of Mohammed. Nor will it be aroused by 
the unrestrained cupidities of the flesh and by the lure 
of plunder, like the one to which the German princes 
subjected the Church under Protestantism and in the life- 
time of Luther, It will be a persecution inspired solely 
by hatred of God, in which God and His Christ will be 
directly challenged, and its sole objective will be the 
extermination of the divine kingship, the complete anni- 
hilation of Christianity and of all positive religion. 
Tiberius, Nero and the most frightful tyrants of paganism 
at least acknowledged an apprehension and, as it were, a 
distant reflection of the divinity in the idols, which 
they sought to compel the Christians to adore; but, in the 
times of which we are speaking, it will no longer be 
permissible to accord even a modified and corrupted ador- 
ation to any divinity. All men without exception will be 
forced to honour and render a cult of latria to Satan 
himself, personified in Antichrist, that is, in the most 
evil and abominable man that humanity has ever produced. 

Thirdly, this persecution, which will mark the last 
ages, will be waged with a well-nigh irresistible seduct- 
iveness, ut in errorem inducantur, si fieri potest, etiam 
electi. Co~rnTlius a Lapide says: Omnes politicorum artes, 
dolos et praxes callebit . At first Antichrist will con- 
^IHce" the JiwT" that he is the Messias. In order to de- 
ceive them the more successfully, he will hide behind a 
mask of moderation and feigned holiness. When St. Paul 
tells us that he will have himself worshipped in the 
temple of God, [88] he seems to imply that he will rebuild 
the temple" - bf Jerusalem, utterly destroyed by Titus; 
consequently, he will prescribe circumcision and, for a 
time, restore the bloody sacrifices and the other rites o£ 
the Judaic religion. 

As for those who are foreign to the Jewish religion, 
he will draw them to himself, first, by persuasion and 
eloquence. He will be skilled in artifice, and will be 
taught by the Devil himself all knowledge useful for the 
ends for which the evil spirit destines him. St. Anselm 
tells us that he will be acquainted with all the natural 
sciences and will know all the sacred texts by heart. [89] 
In the second place, he will win men over by lavishing 
gold and riches. He will be the wealthiest person on 

[88] Dicendum est Antichristum, praecipuam sedem Monarchiae 
suae Jerusalem collocaturum, ut in Jerosolymitano templo a se 
instaurato sedeat, et tanquam Deus adoratur. Haec est sententia 
Patrum omnium qui de antichristo scribunt. Ita ut in templo 
Dei sedeat (2 Thessalonians 2). - Quamquam enim Patres, inter 
dum aliis modis metaphorice interpretentur templum illud, tamen 
sensus maxime proprius et litteralis esse videtur ut de templo 
Jerosolymitano intelligatur . (Suarez: Dissertatio LIX. , act.b) 

[89] Quod erit sapientia et eloquentia incredibili, et omnes 
artes et Scripturas memoriter sciet. 

-4 6- 

earth. Satan will deliver to him all the treasures con- 
cealed in the bowels of the sea and in the hidden depths 
of the earth. [90] 

Fourthly, he will fill all men with admiration by his 
genius, and by the amazing rapidity of his elevation to 
the height of fortune and omnipotence. [91] As for the 
ignorant and the multitude, he will fascinate them by 
marvels, cujus est adventus secundum operationem Satanae , 
in omni virtute et prodigiis mendacibus . [92] St. Thomas 
says that, just as Christ worked miracles in confirmation 
of His doctrine, so also the man of sin will work false 
miracles in confirmation of his errors; and just as the 
true Christ worked wonders by the power of* God, the author 
of all truth, so too His adversary will work, as we have 
indicated above, by the power of Satan, the father of 
fraud and lies. 

Thus, the man of sin will not perform true miracles, 
like Jesus Christ, but will perform false and apparent 
ones. All his wonderful works will be, in reality, mere 
illusions and works of fantasy; so that, as St. Athanasius 
says, when he appears to resurrect a dead man, either the 
man whom he resurrects will not really be dead, or else, 
if he is dead, he will not really be restored to life. 
Lastly, the same saint continues, the works performed by 
Antichrist which appear to transcend the laws of nature 
will not be miracles in the true sense, but effects and 
phenomena of the physical order, performed through the 
intermediary of certain secret, hidden and natural causes. 
The better to beguile men, Antichrist will permit licent- 
iousness and the dissipations of the flesh, and will 
stimulate the most intoxicating pleasures, totus erit in 
libidinibus et concupiscentiis feminarum . [93] 

Fifthly, the persecution of Antichrist will be the 
bloodiest and most barbarous of all those which Christian- 
ity has ever suffered. Jesus Christ so assures us, when 
He says: "For there shall be then great tribulation, such 
as hath not been from the beginning of the world until 
now, neither shall be. "[94] This can be surmised if we 
refer back to two causes. The first is the vast power and 
the stupendous instruments of force and destruction which 

[90] Erit enim opulentissimus ; ejus enim thesauros extollit. 
(Daniel 11:43). Anselmus per thesauros hos intelligit, omnem 
pecuniam, quae in mari vel terrae visceribus occulta delit- 
escit; hanc enim per Daemonem Antichristo prodendam esse. 
(Cornelius a Lapide: Epistle to the Thessalonians , p. 164) 

[91] Ex fornicatione itaque nascetur, et clam educabitur, ex- 
surge t, caputque attollet, atque imperio potietur. (St. John 
Damascene: c. 27) 

Qui consurgere habet de modica gente, id est de populo Ju- 
daeorum, et tam humilis erit, atque despectus, ut ei jion detur 
honor regius, et per insidias et fraudulentiam obtineat prin- 
cipatum. (Jerome: Daniel , 11) 

[92] 2 Thessalonians 11. 

[93] Daniel 2:37. 

[94] Erit tunc tribulatio magna, qualis non fuit ab initio 
mundi usque modo, neque fiet. (Matthew 24:21) 


Antichrist will have at his disposal and, with these, the 
evil and fury of the men appointed to execute his commands. 
The second will be the terrifying wickedness of the devil 
for, says Saint John, in those days God will allow him to 
leave the fiery prison where he is chained, and will give 
him full permission to seduce and satisfy his hatred of 
the human race. [95] Whence it follows, says _St. Cyril, 
that there will then be multitudes of martyrs, more glor- 
ious and admirable than those .who formerly fought with 
lions, in the amphitheatres of Rome and Gaul. 

These had to struggle against mere agents of the 
devil, but the confessors, of the last ages will have to 
struggle against him who is a murderer from the beginning . 
To torment them, the old enemy will practise monstrous 
tortures with unheard-of refinements, unparalleled in past 
centuries, which the human mind could never have contrived 
to invent by itself. 

Finally - the last feature of the persecution of 
Antichrist - it will be so violent that it will succeed in 
making almost the entirety of Christians apostatize. "And 
it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to 
overcome them. "[96] "I beheld, and lo, that horn made war 
against the saints and prevailed over them. "[97] St. Paul 
informs us that Christ will not return until the great 
apostasy has come. [98] Interpreting these words of the 
Apostle, St. Augustine [99] tells us that if, in every age, 
we have seen believers renounce Christ on account of the 
wiles of heretics and the fear of persecutors and tyrants, 
nevertheless the defection which will take place under 
Antichrist is called the apostasy, properly speaking - 
because, in number and extension, this apostasy will ex- 
ceed all that has been seen in previous times. 

However, it would not be correct to conclude from 
this testimony that there will be none of the elect left 
on earth, and that the Son of God will fail to keep the 
promise made to His Church, when He said: Propter electos , 
dies bre viabuntur , because of the elect the days will be 
shortened. Moreover, St. John, in his Apocalypse adds: 
"And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names 

[95] Cum consummati fuerint mille anni, solvetur satanas de 
carcere suo, . et exibit, et seducet gentes quae sunt super qua- 
tuor angulos terrae. (Apocalypse 20) 

[9 6] Et est datum illi bellum facere cum Sanctis et vincere 
eos. (Apocalypse 13) . 

[97] Ecce cornu illud faciebat bellum adversus sanctos, et 
praevalebat eis. * (Daniel 7) 

[98] Nisi venerit primum discessio. (2 Thessalonians 2) 

[99] City of God , book 20. 


are not written in the book of life. "[100] St. Augustine 
tells us that, in the reign of Antichrist, there will be 
multitudes of martyrs who will display a heroic constancy, 
and also a number, more or less large, of confessors who 
will manage to escape into caves and high or sheer moun- 
tains, and God will see to it that these sanctuaries shall 
elude the vigilance and investigations of the persecutors, 
and will not permit the devil to point them out to them. 

Daniel tells us that, at the time when this terrible 
persecution breaks out, the abomination of desolation will 
openly sit enthroned in the holy place. "The king shall 
do according to his will," says Daniel. "He shall be 
lifted up and shall magnify himself against every god: and 
he shall speak great things against the God of gods... and 
he shall make no account of the God of his fathers. . .and 
he shall not regard any gods." [101] 

"Once the man of sin has cowed the human race by his 
threats and entangled it in the meshes of his lies and 
wiles, he will observe no restraint, show his hand and act 
openly. He will not permit anyone to worship or invoke 
any other god than himself, and will proclaim himself sole 
lord of Heaven and earth. Wherever he is not present in 
person, men will be obliged to pay homage to his image or 
statue: Et elevabitur , maqnif icabitur ad versus omnem Deum . 
He will tolerate neither the Mosaic religion, nor natural 
religion itself. He will persecute with equal thorough- 
ness Jews, schismatics, heretics, deists and every sect 
that recognizes the existence of a supreme being and the 
immortality of the life to come. Yet God, in His wisdom, 
will draw good from evil. The horrible . tempest which His 
justice has allowed to be unleashed upon the earth will 
result in the disappearance of false religions. Along 
with Judaism, it will abolish the remains of Mohammedan- 
ism, idolatrous superstitions and every religion hostile 
to the Church. 

"It will deal the finishing blow to the sects of 
darkness. Freemasonry, Carbonari sm, Illuminism and all 
subversive societies will vanish in the vortex of wicked- 
ness which will be their work, and which they had prepared 
for centuries in the belief that it would be their defin- 
itive, supreme triumph. They will have assisted unintent- 
ionally in the establishment of the reign of unity fore- 
told by Our Lord: erit unum ovile et unus pastor . (John 

[100] Adorabunt bestiam omnes qui habitant terram, quorum non 
sunt nomina scripta in libro vitae . (Apocalypse 13) 

[101] Et faciet juxta voluntatem suam rex; et elevabitur, mag- 
nif icabitur, adversus omnem Deum; et adversus Deum Deorum 
loquetur magnif ica. . . Et Deum patrum suorum non reputabit nee 
quemquam Deorum curabit. (Daniel 11:37) It is true that the 
prophet also intends, by these words, to depict the persecution 
of Antiochus and the fury against the Lord's people which_will 
fill this prince. Nevertheless, as Suarez observes, Antiochus 
was only the image of Antichrist, and the evils to which he 
subjected the faithful Jews are meant to be a brief outline of 
those which the Christians of the last days will endure. 


The triumph of the wicked one will be of short dur- 
ation; but the consolations which follow will be uni- 
versal, abundant, proportionate to the extent of the 
tribulations which the Church will have suffered. 

A son of Israel, converted not long ago, and to-day a 
priest and doctor, captivated by the grand spectacle which 
the Church of God will present in" that fortunate era when- 
Jews and Gentiles, seated .. at one and the same banquet, 
have become one and the same family, under the crook of a 
single shepherd, exclaims in a transport of joy: 

"In the life of Christ on earth, there were two great 
days of triumph when He was acknowledged as Messias and 
King: the feast of the Epiphany, which was a kind of morn- 
ing feast, which the assembled nations, represented in the 
persons of the Magi, gave to Jesus Christ; and Palm Sunday, 
which was the evening feast, given belatedly to Christ by 
Jerusalem: Palm Sunday, the day of Israel's acclamations. 

"Now to-day, after nineteen centuries of fidelity, 
the great feast of the Epiphany is forgotten by the 
nations and their leaders, who have rejected Christ and 
His Church. Let me then, in the eventide of the Church's 
life, salute the great Palm Sunday and the unexpected 
outburst of acclamation from the old race of Jacob. Let 
me salute and sing of this day, when the doors of the 
synagogue will be opened, amidst wild rejoicing, for the 
triumphal entry of the Messias, whom she has so long 
awaited but not acknowledged. Let me sing of the day when 
the remnant of Israel will strew their garments upon the 
path of Christ and His Church, and the air will be fra- 
grant with perfume from that blood which, this time, will 
fall as a stream of love upon Israel and her children. 
feast of Palms, rise forth over the Church... Jerusalem, 
Jerusalem, . how often would I have gathered together thy 
children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her 
wings; but this time, Jerusalem, you will have desired 
it, you will have flung yourself beneath the wings. 
Hosanna and everlasting glory to Jesus Christ in the 
highest, and to the Church wherein Israel, after a long 
absence, has found again her Messias and King. "[102] 

However, the final consummation will not come yet, as 
it is written (Apocalypse, chapter 11) : 

"And the seventh angel soUnded the trumpet, and there 
were great voices in heaven" - voices of angels and of 
virgins, together with the voices of confessors and holy 
martyrs, will hail Christ with praise and acclamations, 
giving thanks for His victory over Antichrist, and for the 
extermination of the wicked. All men, now become wor- 
shippers of one and the same God, all professing the same 
faith, united in the same adoration, sharing the same 
table, will exclaim in chorus: "The kingdom of this world 
is become . Our Lord's and his Christ's... We give thee 
thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who art and who wast and who 
art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great 
power, and thou hast reigned. " [103] 

[102] Abbe Lehman: Les Nations Fremissantes . 
[103] Apocalypse 11:17. 



The resurrection of the dead and t he General Judgement 

Ecce mysterium vobis momento, in ictu 
oculi, in novissima tuba (canet emm tuba) , 
mortui resurgent incorrupti. 

Behold, I tell you a mystery... in a moment, 
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last 
trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound and the 
dead shall rise again incorruptible. 
(1 Corinthians 15: 51-2) 

The world must have an end, and that end will not take 
place until Antichrist has appeared. 

Protestantism and unbelief reject the individuality 
of Antichrist. They consider him to be a mere myth, an 
allegorSal imaginary person; or else they see this man 
of sin foretold by St. Paul, as nothing more than the 
ade 'of the anti-Christian fight, the chief and messias 
of Freemasonry and the sects, raised up in order to bring 
civilization to its zenith, by liberating it for ever from 
tS darknes°s of superstition - in °ther words eliminating 
all positive religion and every revealed truth from the 
whole surface of the earth. 

Anona the truths relating to the end of our destiny 
in time there is one which is particularly repugnant to 
humaTpassions 6 , one which rationalism and free-thinking 
assail ceaselessly and remorselessly, making it the target: 
of ?heir moSt astute sophistry and of their most audacious 
n That doctrine - the most glorious and most 
consoling of all doctrines for our human nature -is the 
fu£Se Resurrection of our bodies. Sometimes -St Paul 
fonnrt at Athens, unbelieving science seeks to crush tne 
doctrine beneath the weight of its derision and sarcasm; 
at otner times, as happened ^. the tribunal of the praetor 
Felix, it turns pale on hearing it mentioned and f eels 
terror-stricken: "Disputante autem judicio rut 
uStremef actus Felix respondit. . . . Vade : tempore autem 
opportuno accersam te."[104] 

It is_clear from this passage, and from many others 
recurring at various points in the epistles of St. Paul^ 
that the dogma of the resurrection of the dead was tne 
favourite and popular subject of the Apostle's preaching. 

[104] Acts 24:25. 


He expounded it boldly in the praetoria, in the syna- 
gogues and in the areopagus of the wise men and phil- 
osophers of Greece. In the eyes of St. Paul, this doc- 
trine of the future resurrection is the foundation of our 
hopes, the solution to the mystery of life, the principle, 
crux^-andl conclusion of the whole Christian system. With- 
out "lt,"~ divine and human laws would be devoid of all 
"" sanction, and spiritual doctrines would be an absurdity; 
Wisdom^ would consist solely in living and enjoying like 
the animals; for, if man is not to live again after death, 
the just man who fights against his own feelings and 
checks his passions would be senseless. The martyrs, who 
suffered for the honour of Christ and let themselves 
torn apart by lions in the amphitheatres would have been 
only trouble-makers and freaks. [105] Once it is granted 
that the destinies of man are limited within the bounds of- 
the present life, there is no happiness in this world 
except in the crassest and most brazen materialism. The 
only true Gospel, the only sound, rational philosophy is 
that of Epicurus, summed up in the words: Manducemus et 
bibamus, eras enim moriemur - Let us eat and drink for 
tomorrow we shall die. [106] 

In order to turn souls away from gross cravings, and 
raise them up to aspirations worthy of their heavenly 
origins, the Apostle does not cease to instil this great 
truth; and, at the same time, he draws from it the con- 
sequences which bear upon the ordering of life, and the 
external and internal regulation of human acts. 

"Behold I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed 
rise again; but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, 
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the 
trumpet shall sound and the dead shall rise again in- 
corruptible; and we shall be changed. For this corrupt- 
ible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on 
immortality. And, when this mortal hath put on immort- 
ality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 
Death is swallowed up in victory. 

"0 death, where is thy victory? death, where is thy 
sting?" [107] 

In the preceding verses the great Apostle explains, 
no less wonderfully, the theological reason and the sov- 
ereign excellence of this mystery, of which God has made 
him the interpreter and herald. 

" [The -body of man]... is sown in corruption: it shall 
rise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour: it shall 
rise in glory. It is sown in weakness: it shall rise in 
power. It is sown a natural body: it shall rise a spirit- 
ual body. . . The first man Adam was made into a living 
soul; the last Adam into a quickening spirit... The first 
man was, of the earth, earthly; the second man, from 
Heaven, heavenly... Therefore, as we have borne the image 
of the earthly, let us bear also the image of the heaven- 
ly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot 
possess the kingdom of God; neither shall corruption 
possess incorruption. " [108] 

[105] 1 Corinthians 15:32. 
[106] 1 Corinthians 15:32 
[107] 1 Corinthians 15:51-55. 

riflfll 1 rnrinlKJ-- -I c - J -. r- ~ 


HPre we have a statement, drawn up by a master-hand, 
clear and concise; and any interpretation which the human 
word might seek to add would serve only to weaken xts 
vigour and clarity. 

Such is also the true, Catholic faith, which the 

solemn feasts. 

"I believe in the resurrection of the body, I await 
the resurrection of the dead." 

Both St. Athanasius, in his creed,' and ^e Fourth 

rise again with the same ^ bodies with which they 
united in the present life." 

Tn fact if, after being dissolved and returned to 
the d^st^om which they came our bodies > v ,ere not to be 
reborn with their entire limbs and the totality or taeir 
coSoreal, constituent parts; if they were not to "appear 
with the same faces and the same features, so that, when 
w awoneTnother again on the day of judgement we would 
recoqnize ourselves immediately, there would then be no 
point in T calling our rebirth a resurrection, but a new 

Thus it is quite certain that, at the judgement, we 

the self -same ones which opened to the r ays of the sun 

Sreasis^ be^e ^y^arT^cf £e Sdour^ ^ 
love will have consumed, or which will have let itself be 
devoured by the impure flames of lust. 

Such was the unshakable hope of Job. As he sat on 
his dunghill, wasted away by putrefaction but with an 
unruffled countenance -and shining eyes the jho!* ' span of 
the aaes flashed through his mind. In an ecstasy or joy 
S contemplated, in the brightness of the prophetic light, 
tLdavs when h' e would shake off the dust of his coffin, 
and exclaimed": "I know that my Redeemer liveth . Wh om I 
myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold and not 
another." [109] 

This doctrine of the Resurrection is the keystone, 
*-h* nillar of the whole Christian edifice, the pivot ana 
centre of our Faith. Without it there is no redemption 
our beliefs and our preaching are futile, and all religion 
crumbles at the base: 

Inanis est ergo praedicatio nostra, inanis est fides 
nostra. [HO] _ _"-:_" _T 

[109] Job, 19:25,27. _ 

[110] 1 Corinthians 15:14. 


Rationalist writers have declared that this belief in 
the Resurrection was not contained in the Old Testament, 
and that it dates only from the Gospel. Nothing could be 
more erroneous. We need only read through the long line 
of Mosaic tradition, listening to the great voices of the 
patriarchs and the prophets, to see that they all tremble 
with joy and hope at the prospect of the promised immort- 
ality, and celebrate this new life, which will become 
theirs beyond the grave, and will have no end. It is said 
in the Book of Exodus: "I am the God of Abraham, the God 
of Isaac and the God of Jacob." In St. Matthew, Christ 
uses this passage to prove to the Jews the truth of the 

"And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have 
you not read that which was spoken by God, saying to you: 
I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God 
of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the 
living." [Ill] 

Did not the mother of the Machabees, standing amidst 
the blood and the scattered, mutilated limbs of her sons, 
strike the evil Antiochus dumb with fear, when she said to 

"But thou, a wicked and of all men most flagitious, 
be not lifted up without cause with vain hopes, whilst 
thou art raging against his servants... For my brethren, 
having now undergone a short pain, are under the covenant 
of eternal life. "[112] 

For the saints of the Old Testament, this belief in 
the Resurrection was not only a symbol and a speculative 
doctrine; it was their fundamental faith, expressed in the 
marvels and works of their lives, of which the institut- 
ions they left us were representative types. St. Jerome 
s ay s : 

"Chief among them was Abel, whose blood, crying out 
to the Lord, bore witness to his hope in the resurrection 
of the dead. Next came Henoch, carried off so that he 
might not see death: he is the type and image of the 
resurrection. Thirdly, Sara, whose barren womb, exhausted 
with old age, conceived and brought a son into the world, 
gives us hope of resurrection. Fourthly, Jacob and Joseph 
left instructions for their bones to be gathered up and 
honourably buried, thereby confessing their faith in the 
Resurrection. Fifthly, the withered rod of Aaron which 
blossomed and gave fruit, and the rod of Moses which, at 
God's command, became alive and turned into a snake, offer 
us a shadow and an outline of the resurrection. Finally, 
did not Moses, who blessed Ruben and said, let Ruben live 
and not die, when Ruben had long since departed from this 
life, acknowledge that he desired for him resurrection 

[111] De resurrectione mortuorum non legistis quod dictum est a 
Deo dicente vobis: Ego sura Deus Abraham, Deus Isaac et Deus 
Jacob? Non est Deus mortuorum sed vivorum. (Matthew 22:31) 

[112] Tu quidem scelestissime in praesenti vita nos perdis, sed 
rex mundi defunctos nos pro suis legibus, in aeternae vitae 
resurrectione suscitabit. (2 Machabees 7) 


and eternal life?" [113] And if these various testimonies 
were to be deemed mere allegories or mystical testimonies, 
we would conclude this list with the very explicit words 
of Daniel, which leave no doubt about the constant and 
universal faith of the Old Testament in the future Resur- 

"And many of those that sleep in the dust of the 
earth shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others 
unto reproach to see it always. " [114] 

This truth, affirmed by Scripture, .is proclaimed no 
less boldly by reason and by Christian philosophy. 

Philosophy covers in its vast field all that pertains 
to the nature of God, the nature of man and that of the 
world. Now the dogma of the Resurrection belongs to the 
ideas which philosophy gives us on these three subjects, 
which fall within its realm and are the matter of xts 

In the first place, the dogma of the Resurrection 
follows from the ideas which philosophy gives us on the 
nature of God. Christian philosophy teaches us that God 
is the efficient, the first and the final cause of all the 
creatures in the world. Having freely created them, with 
absolute sovereignty and independence, He has marked them 
all, to a greater or lesser degree, with the character of 
His own likeness and His infinite perfections. However, 
the human body, made by His own hands and enlivened by His 
breath, is the epitome of His marvels, the masterpiece of 
His wisdom and divine goodness. By the beauty and ele- 
gance of its construction, the nobility of its bearing and 
the splendours which shine through it, the body of man is 
infinitely superior to all the material beings which have 
come from the hands of God. 

It is through the body that the mind reveals its 
power and exercises its kingship. It is the body, Ter- 
tullian says, which is the organ of the divine life and 
the sacraments. It is the body which is washed by the 
water of baptism, so that the soul may obtain its purity 
and clarity. It is the body which is anointed by the oil 
and the unction of the Holy Ghost, so that the soul may be 
consecrated. It is upon the body that hands are imposed, 
so that the soul may be enlightened and can communicate 
blessings. It is the body which receives the Eucharist, 
and quenches its thirst with divine blood, so that man, 

[113] Primum, Abel cujus sanguis ad Dominum clamat spem res- 
surectionis corporum ostendit. Deinde Enoch trans la tus ut 
mortem non videret: est resurrectionis typus. Tertio Sara 
sterilis" et senili utero, juxta promissionem concipiens et 
pariens spem resurrectionis praebet. Quarto Jacob et Joseph, 
propriorum ossium curam habentes ressurectioms fidem osten-- 
dunt. Qui nto,- virga Aaron, germinans et fructum producens, et 
virga Moysis quae juxta Dei voluntatem animabatur, et serpens 
fiebat, resurrectionem adumbrabat. Denique Moyses benedicens 
Ruben, hunc in modum: Vivat Ruben et non moriatur, cum ]am 
Ruben vita -functus esset, resurrectionem et- aeternam vitam ei 
postulare visus est. (St. Jerome: Epistle contra Samaritanos) 

[114] Multi de iis qui dormiunt in terrae pulvere evigilabunt, 
alii in vitam aeternam, alii in opprobrium. (Daniel 12:2) 


becoming one with Christ and sharing with Him the same 
life, may subsist eternally. [115] 

Again, it is the body which crosses the hands in 
prayer and bows in adoration. It is the body which is 
emaciated by fasts and mortification, which offers itself 
as a holocaust on scaffolds and stakes, and is consumed in 
martyrdom, which state is not absolute and irrevocable 
until it is sealed by death and expressed in blood. And 
could the body of man - instrument of the most heroic 
deeds, channel of all graces and blessings, champion of 
Christian witness, priest and altar of sacrifice, and 
virginal spouse of Christ - be like the grass in the 
fields, bursting forth into life for a moment, only to 
become the prey of worms and the guest of death forever? 
That would be a blasphemy against Providence and an 
affront to His infinite goodness. 

The dogma of the Resurrection of the dead follows 
from the ideas which Christian philosophy gives us about 
God; it follows, in the second place, from the ideas which 
this philosophy gives us about the nature of man. 

Man is really composed of two substances: spirit and 
body. These two principles are united by links so inti- 
mate and profound - there is between them such a close 
reciprocity and inter-relationship - that, were it not for 
the instrumentality of the body, the spirit, by its very 
nature, would be inapt to exercise any of its functions. 

It would be like a puff of wind which, in the absence 
of an organ, could not resound, or a lyre with loose and 
oroken chords, which would no longer disturb the air and 
would remain without tune or echo. 

Thus, without the body, the soul cannot enter into a 
relationship with the eternal, visible world; it has 
neither the use of sight, nor the use of hearing; it 
cannot- exercise its action and its sovereignty over 
matter, nor gain control over the elements, nor savour 
fruit, nor breathe in fragrance. 

The mouth itself - the mouth which may have held 
forth in words of wisdom, which has so often opened to 
teach or to praise - is no more than a withered, arid 
member which the soul can no longer use to move hearts and 
enlighten minds. No doubt, as St. Thomas teaches, God, 
will confer upon the separated souls after their death, a 
form of existence which will enable them to know one 
another, to hold communication among themselves, without 
the aid of corporal organs of which they will have been_ 
deprived. That, however, will be a marvellous and 
exceptional means, beyond the normal conditions and laws 
of human beings. 

What is certain is that, in itself, and leaving aside 
that capacity which God, by His power, will add to our 
inner constitution after death, the soul deprived of its 
body is but an isolated, mutilated substance, cut off from 
all communication with the world of the living. 

[115] Caro abluitur ut anirna emaculetur; caro ungitur ut anima 
consecretur. Caro saginatur ut et anima muniatur; caro manuum 
impositlone adumbratur ut et anima Spiritu illumine tur: cam 


If you ask why God saw fit to unite, in one and the 
same creature, two principles so disparate, f° different 
in their essence and properties, as mind and body; why He 
did not wish man to be, like the angels, a pure spirit, I 
will reply that God so acted in order that man might oe 
truly the king and the epitome of all His works; so that 
he might, after the manner of Christ, incorporate in his 
personality the totality of created elements and beings, 
so that he might be the centre of all things and, by 
bringing together mind and body, the visible and invisible 
order, serve as interpreter of both, and offer them simul- 
taneously to the Most High, in his homage and adoration. 

Hence it is that, if man were to be deprived for ever 
of his body, the material and visible creation would no 
longer have any mediator or pontiff, no longer have any 
voice to address its hymn of gratitude and love to God, 
and the link which unites inanimate being to the Creator 
would be irreversibly broken. 

So, if God has not resolved to cast His work back 
into the void forever, if this earth, sanctified by the 
footsteps of Christ, is destined, once radiant and re- 
newed, to subsist eternally, then man must rise again in a 
future life to reconquer its sceptre and kingship. Hence, 
once more, it follows that death means not ruin but res- 
toration. If God has decreed that our earthly abode shall 
one day be dissolved, it is not for the purpose of de- 
spoiling us of it, but to render it subtle, immortal, 
impassible. His aim may be compared with that of an 
architect, says St. John Chrysostom, who has the house-owner 
leave his house for a short period, in order to have him 
return with greater glory to that same house, now rebuilt 
in greater splendour. 

The propriety and the necessity of the Resurrection 
follow from the nature of man; they follow, lastly, from 
the laws and nature of the world. 

The law of the world, says Tertullian, is that every- 
thing is renewed and nothing perishes. Thus the seasons 
follow one another in their course, the trees loose their 
fruit in autumn, and their leaves turn yellow and dry, 
like an adornment which has faded; but, when autumn gives 
wav to spring, the trees become green again, their buds 
spring forth, and their leaves adorn themselves with a new 
crown of flowers and fruit. Thus the grain and the seed, 
laid in the furrows of the land, wither and appear to 
dissolve, from the effect of humidity and the action of 
the air; but, by the time of the harvest, they will have 
broken through the surface of the soil, and been born 
again in greater splendour, rejuvenated and renewed, as an 
ear of corn. In the same way, the sun, at the close of 
the day, disappears in the shades of its twilight, and 
seems to sink beneath the depth of the ocean; but in the 
morning it appears anew at the appointed time, to 
illuminate the earth and enkindle the air with its light 
and fire. 

Death is only slumber, a latent state. It is a state 
of rest and silence, where creatures, apparently motion- 
less and buried, take on a new shape- and assume a new 
vitality and a new energy: in the . tomb where they sleep 
they undergo a process of incubation and recasting, from 
which they will emerge more free and transformed, like a 
torch which has gone out and is rekindled with greater 
brilliance by the vivifying breath of men; or again, HKe 
the insect which pulls itself over the mud of the ground 
and which, having been enclosed in its shell, emerges with 
a new strength, spreads out its shining wings, and 

-_ I- 

At this point, certain questions need to be eluci- 
dated. It is said that the dead will awaken at the sound 
of the trumpet. It is said that all will rise again, but 
that all will not be changed. Finally, it may be asked 
whether men will rise again in the state and at the same 
age as when they died in this world. 

In the chapter on the_Jfeai.r__.of the judge.menty quoting 
the words of St. Paul, " the last trumpet, for the 
trumpet shall sound," St. Jerome_ says: M At the sound of 
the trumpets, the whole earth will be stricken with fear," 
and, further on: "Whether you are reading or sleeping, 
writing or keeping watch, let that trumpet always resound 
in your ears. "[116] 

Will this trumpet, the echoes of which will penetrate 
the murky caverns of the abyss and awaken the fathers of 
the human race from their long slumber, give out an aud- 
ible sound? It seems probable. The angels who, on that 
day, will assume aeriform bodies in order to be seen by 
all men, may also construct, out of the elements and 
diverse substances of the air, material instruments cap- 
able of emitting real sounds. However, if we feel reluct- 
ant to accept this explanation, we can keep to the inter- 
pretation of St. Thomas, who tells us that St. Paul uses 
the term "trumpet" only allegorically, as an image. Just 
as, among the Jews, the trumpet was used for summoning the 
people to the great feasts, urging on the soldiers in 
battle and giving the signal to strike camp, so the voice 
of the angel is called a trumpet by analogy, by reason of 
its power and glitter, and the ability it will have to 
summon all men, in an instant, to the same place. 

Secondly, it is said that all men will rise again, 
but that not all will be changed. It is certain that the 
damned will rise again, possessed of all their physical 
and intellectual faculties and all their limbs, and that 
their bodies will not be subject to any illness or change; 
but, lacking the nuptial robe of charity, they will not be 
clothed in the qualities of the glorified bodies. They 
will be reborn neither transfigured, nor luminous, nor 
subtle, but such as they were on earth - passible, opaque, 
shackled to matter and to the law of gravity. They will 
not feel the intensity and violence of the fire any the 
less thereby; and this fire will cause them the greater 
suffering because, being in a perfect state of health and 
in full possession of their physical and intellectual 
vigour, they will be all the more conscious of its energy 
and action. The fire of the damned is a fire lit by the 
breath of God's justice, created solely to punish; con- 
sequently, its severity is not at all proportionate to the 
weakness or diversity of temperaments. It is measured 
according to the number and gravity of the crimes to be 
punished, as it is said: ignis eorum non extinguetur. 
This fire will consume without destroying. It will cling 
to its victims as to a prey, without their organs being 
affected by it, and without their flesh ever feeling any 
tear or injury. [117] 

[116] Tunc ad vocem tubae pavebit terra; sive leges, sive 
dormies, sive scribes, sive vigilabis, haec tibi semper buccina 
in auribus sonet. (St. Jerome: De timore judicii ) 

[117] As for children who die unbaptized, the theologian Suarez 
says: Haec omnia communia sunt infantibus qui in solo peccato 
original! decesserunt; solum erit differentia, quia horum 
corpora licet ex interna dispositione sint passibilia, tamen 
actu nihil patientur, nee f atigabuntur, neque inor dinatum 
aliquem motum spnHont ~«- •;.-,--- 


Lastly, will men rise again the same age as they were 
when they died? 

The most probable opinion, and the one most in har- 
mony with Scripture, is that they will rise again "in the 
state of perfect man, according to the age of the fullness 
of Jesus Christ: in virum perfectum, in mensuram aetatis 
plenitudinis Christi. " [118] In other words, when all men 
have been restored to the type and image of Christ, at 
least as far as befits the number and degree of their 
merits, they will be reborn in the maturity of manhood, in 
the full development of their being and physical con- 
stitution, just as Christ on the day of His Resurrection 
and Ascension when, entering upon His bliss, He took 
possession of His eternal sovereignty. 

Finally, will Jesus Christ be the sole author of the 
Resurrection, or will it be brought about through the 
ministry of the angels? We say that it will be accomp- 
lished directly by the power of Christ, but that the 
angels too, who are His ministers, will be called upon to 
co-operate and lend their assistance. For it is said in 
St. John, chapter 5: "...the hour cometh, and now is, when 
the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God." Further- 
more, it is said in Matthew 24: "And he shall send his 
angels with a trumpet and a great voice; and they shall 
gather together his elect from the four winds. .." [119] 

Thus Jesus Christ, as king and leader, will give the 
signal; He will utter His command, and leave His angels 
the task of gathering together the scattered elements 
which have belonged to our bodies, and which are destined 
to reconstitute them. 

To these truths founded on Holy Scripture, mocking, 
sceptical science raises objections, drawn from the laws 
which bind the present order, and which it considers 
decisive and irrefutable. 

How, they say, will the angels or, indeed, any other 
superior beings, however great be their degree of per- 
ception, ever manage to gather up and separate the remains 
and particles of human bodies, scattered over every con- 
tinent, dispersed beneath every firmament, engulfed in the 
seas, some dissolved, others turned into vapour or vege- 
table sap, some of them having served in turn to form a 
multitude of organized, living beings? Since the same 
particles of substances will have belonged at different 
times to an infinite diversity of bodies, will it be 
within the power of an angel to assign them to one partic- 
ular person, rather than another? 

It is easy for us to reply that, when the angels 
receive the command to gather together the ashes of the 
dead f whether with the aid of their natural knowledge or 
assisted by a revelation from above, they will immediately 
know which are the elements and material parts that must 
form each human body; they will know in which place on sea 
or land these material parts lie, and in what form they 
- subsist. There- is a pious belief that each angel will 
concern himself particularly with the human creature whom 
God had once entrusted to his care. Can it be supposed 
that these good angels forsake the remains of those crea- 

[118] Ephesians 5:13. 

r - •. ^ t «»4 i-t^*- annoinq wmK cum tuba et voce magna et congregabunt 


tures over whom they had watched with such loving kindness 
and solicitude? That they do not follow them through all 
their transformations and that, at the required moment, 
they do not have the means and the power to find the 
ashes? Furthermore, are not the angels God's delegates? 
How, then, can it- be_ admitted that God, Who sees all 
things, Who is present In the atom, in the blade of grass, 
in each grain of sand_ on the sea-shore, will be unable to 
make^them distinguish the particles of our bodies, which 
His gaze embraces, and in which He lives substantially by 
His immensity? 

Let us note, however, that the ministry of the angels 
will be limited to gathering together, at the appointed 
place, the remains and particles of our bodies; as for the 
arrangement of these different pieces - the spirit of life 
which will again be infused into our reconstituted bod- 
ies - that, says St. Thomas, is a creative work which 
exceeds the power of the angelic nature itself, and which 
will be wrought by the direct, immediate power of God. 

Hence the reason why the Resurrection will be instant- 
aneous: it will be accomplished in the twinkling of an 
eye, says St. Paul, in an imperceptible instant, in a 
flash. The dead, asleep in the slumber" of many centuries, 
will hear the voice of the Creator, and will obey Him as 
promptly as the elements obeyed Him during the six days: 
Dixit et facta sunt. 

They will shake off the binding-clothes of their 
age-long night and free themselves from the grip of death, 
with greater nimbleness than a sleeping man awakening with 
a start. Just as, of old, Christ came forth from His tomb 
with the speed of lightning, cast off His shroud in an 
instant, had the sealed stone of His sepulchre [120] lifted 
aside by an angel, and hurled the guards, half-dead with 
fright, to the ground, so, says Isaias, in an equally 
imperceptible space of time, death will be cast forth: 
Praecipitabit mortem in sempiternum. [121] 

Ocean and land will- open up their depths to eject 
their victims, just as the whale which had swallowed up 
Jonas opened its jaws to throw him out on the shore of 
Tharsis. Then human beings, free, like Lazarus, of the 
bonds of death, will rush transfigured into a new life, 
and will insult the cruel enemy which had felt sure that 
it would keep them fettered in endless captivity. They 
will say: "0 death, where is thy victory? death, where 
is thy sting? Absorpta es, mors, in victoria tua." 

There is one senseless and crass objection, which we 
think it right to point out: it is the one raised by the 
materialists of our time. 

The human body, they say, is composed and recomposed 
unceasingly, through age, sickness, changes of elements, 
and especially by nutrition. It is subject to constant and 

[120] Our Lord did not remove the stone which closed the en- 
trance to His sepulchre by breaking it, as some have thought. 
It was the angel who took it or rolled it away. St. Antoninus 
of Plaisance, who lived in the sixth century, declared that, 
during his travels in the Holy Land, he saw this stone, which 
was round, like a millstone. 

[121] Isaias 25:8. 

perpetual loss and renewal. The limbs can wither or grow 
fat, the hair falls out and grows again. It has been 
ascertained that, of the blood and humours which made up 
the material structure of the child, not one single part- 
icle remains in old age. 

Will all this dust, all these different and incalcul- 
able remains which have gone to form his organic life, be 
restored to man once he arises from his ashes? If they 
are not given back to him, if he is still deprived of 
them, how can it be said that he will be born again, with 
the same body to which he was united in this life? If, on 
the other hand, he rises with the totality of the elements 
which have gone to make his constitution, then the bodies 
of the resurrected elect, which, it is- said, must be 
filled with harmony and perfection, will in fact be just a 
mass of shapeless, defective elements. 

True science has long since made short work of the 
inconsistency and absurdity of such a theory. In our 
times, a publicist of great profundity, an eminent theo- 
logian, knowledgeable in the natural sciences as well as 
in the sacred sciences, has disproved by an irrefutable 
argument these doctrines-, which are as base as they are 
presumptuous and foolish: 

"In the body of a man," he says, "there is both some- 
thing essential and something adventitious and accessory. 
The essential part is what he shares with no one, what he 
alone possesses and will possess for ever; it is the part 
of him which existed at the moment he was informed, ani- 
mated and vivified by his soul. These essential elements 
he will always keep; they will always be his. The rest, 
that which is produced by nutrition, digestion and assimi- 
lation, is not he. He can lose it/ and does lose it, 
without ceasing to be himself. It will be with these 
essential, personal elements that God will resurrect the 
glorious, spiritual bodies, as also He will resurrect the 
immortal corruption of the damned. The soul being the 
same, the real kernel, the constitutive element remaining 
the same, the rest is of little importance and its ident- 
ity will subsist eternally. 

"Moreover, it has been painstakingly demonstrated, 
first, that in a body as large as the earth, there are 
enough gaps . and pores for it to be conceived as being 
reduced to the volume of a grain of sand; secondly, that, 
conversely, in a grain of sand, there are enough separable 
parts, atoms and molecules for a globe as large as the 
earth to -be formed from them. In view of these two 
utterly overwhelming mysteries of nature, dare we dispute 
the possibility or impossibility of the reconstitution of 
the human body, with its essential original 
elements?" [122] 

[122] Moigno: Splendeurs de la_ foi . 

[Note by the publishers of the English edition. Fr. 
Arminjon has in' fact been misled by the dogmatic assertions of 
nineteenth century so-called scientists, who were the fore- 
runners of the^even more dogmatic twentieth century scientists, 
into believing that a mere theory ._is _a proven fact. Atomic 
theory may or may not represent reality, .but it is a theory and 
nothing more. No " one has even proved that there are such 
things as atoms, or the existence of all the components which 
atoms have been "discovered to contain" - electrons, neutrons, 
protons and the rest. A short discussion exposing atomic 
theory is included in an appendix to an essay called Einstein 
and Modern Physics by N.M. Gwynne, which examines the whole 
mvth that modern physics consists of and the part played by 


Let us conclude this account of the resurrection by 
recalling its magnificence and sublimity. The resurrect- 
ion will be a grand, imposing spectacle, surpassing all 
those of which the earth has ever been the setting, and 
eclipsing even -the solemnity of the first creation. Of 
the former, the most beautiful picture depicted for us 
comes from the prophet Ezechiel, chapter 37, verses 1 to 
13 : .— . 

"The hand of the Lord was upon me and brought me 
forth in the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the 
midst of a plain that was full of bones. And he led me 
about through them . on every side. Now there were very 
many upon the face of the plain and they were exceedingly 

"And he said to me: Prophesy concerning these bones 
arid say to them: Ye dry bones hear the word of the Lord. 

"Thus saith the Lord God to these bones: Behold I 
will send spirit into you and you shall live. And I will 
lay sinews upon you and will cause flesh to grow over you 
and will cover you with skin: and I will give you spirit 
and you shall live and you shall know that I am the Lord. 

"And I prophesied as he had commanded me. And as I 
prophesied there was a noise, and, behold, a commotion: 
and bones came together, each one to its joint. And I 
saw, and, behold, the sinews and the flesh came up upon 
them, and the skin was stretched out over them: but there 
was no spirit in them. 

"And he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, 
son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus saith the Lord 
God: Come, spirit, from the four winds and blow upon these 
slain and let them live again. 

"And I prophesied as he had commanded me: and the 
spirit came into them, and they lived: and they stood up 
upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 

"And he said to me: Son of man: All these bones are 
the house of Israel. They say: Our bones are dried up and 
our hope is lost and we are cut off. Therefore prophesy 
and say to them: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will 
open up your graves and will bring you out of your sepul- 
chres, my people, and will bring you into the land of 
Israel. " 


With the resurrection accomplished, the immediate 
consequence is the judgement, which will take place with- 
out delay.. It is impossible to imagine the innumerable 
members of the human family, made up of the long line of 
generations, massed together over the confined space of 
the surface of the earth, trying to recognize the traces 
of the places where they once dwelt, and again reduced to 
sprinkling them with the sweat of their brow and wrangling 
over the ownership of the land. 

It is evident that mankind, once resurrected, will 
enter upon another mode of existence, and that divine 
goodness is bound to open up new abodes, new habitations. 

These habitations will be of different kinds, accord- 
ing to the merits or demerits of each person. The just 
will enter the empyrean heaven, the damnsd will fiii •>- 

-0 4- 

It is pointless to refute those godless men who deny 
this supreme manifestation of justice and solemn climax or 
human destiny. 

The general judgement is a certain fact, announced by 
the prophets; it is a truth which Jesus Christ constantly 
stresses? % truth ratified by reason and consonant with 
the law of conscience and every idea of equity. 

In Holy Scripture, each time that the judgement is 
spoken of without any qualification and each time that 
da of judgement is designated by the .words ; "dies 
Domini, dies irae" or other similar terms, these expres 
sions must be understood as referring ^o the general 
judgement, which will take place at the end of the times. 
Thus, it is written: "But I say unto you, it shall be more 
tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than 
for you "[123] - Y shall be more tolerable for the land 
or S Y odom in the day of judgement than ^ thee- [124] , 
the day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the 
nignt. "[125] "We beseech you, brethren," says St. Paul^ 
•'.I. that you be not easily moved if the day of the 
Lord were at hand. "[126] The prophets are full of similar 
words: "The great day of the Lord is near," says the 
prophet Sophonias. "That day is a day of wrath, a day of 
tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and mis ery, a 
day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and whirl 
winds, a day of the trumpet and alarm... I 127 J 

Christ speaks more explicitly in St. Matthew, chapter 
13- "Suffer both [the wheat and the cockle] to grow... and 
in the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers: 
Gather up first the cockle and bind it into bundles to 
burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn. 

Elsewhere, in the same Gospel, chapter 13 verse 47, 
He says: "The kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into 
the sea and gathering together of all kind °f fishes 
Which, when it was filled, they drew out; and, sitting by 
the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the 
bad they cast forth. 

"So it shall be at the end of the world. The angels 
shall go out and shall separate the wicked f ° m a TOn 9^ 
just; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire. There 
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

"Have ye understood all these things? They say unto 
him: Yes." 

[123] Dico vobis, Tyro et Sidoni remissius erit in die judicii. 
(Matthew 11:22) _ . . - 

[124] Terrae Sodomorum remissius erit in die judicii. (Matthew 

11:24) ._'--._ 

[125] Dies Domini, sicut fur in nocte, ita veniet. (2 Thessa- 

lonians 5:2) --"_---_- 

[126] Non cito moveamini, quasi instet dies -Domini. (2 Thessa- 

lonians 2:2) - 

ri271 Juxta est dies Domini magna. Dies Domini amara, dies irae, 
dies tribulationis et angustiae, dies calamitatis, et misenae, 
dies tenebrarum et caliginis, dies tubae et clangons. (Sophon- 
ias 1:14) 


Let us add to these texts from Scripture the testi- 
mony of St. Thomas, who gives us three theological reasons 
for the opportuneness and propriety of a universal judge- 

The first of these reasons consists in the fact that 
the works of man, whether they are good or bad, are not 
always isolated, transitory acts; more often, especially 
in the case of the leaders of nations and those who are 
invested with public authority, they continue to subsist 
after they are concluded, either in the memory of other men 
or in public acclaim, as a result of the consequences they 
have had and the scandal they have caused. Thus, at first 
sight, a particular, secret crime seems to be only a 
private, personal deed; but it becomes social on account 
of its effects. 

Certainly it is of faith that there is a particular 
judgement, and that every man, at the instant of his 
soul's departure from the body, appears before the tri- 
bunal of God to hear his eternal sentence pronounced. Yet 
this judgement cannot suffice, and it is essential that it 
should be followed by another public judgement, in which 
God will not examine the actions in isolation and taken in 
themselves, but will examine them in their effects upon 
other men, in the good or evil deriving from them for 
families and peoples - in a word, in the consequences 
which they produced and which those who perpetrated them 
ought to have foreseen. 

The second reason given by the Angelic Doctor for this 
public manifestation relates to the false judgements and 
mistaken appraisals of human opinion. Most men, even the 
wisest and most enlightened, are easily outwitted and 
deceived by others. They do not discern the innermost 
depths of souls, and cannot reach what is secret and 
interior in them: hence it happens that they generally 
form their judgements on appearances, on what is visible 
and exterior. Again, it follows that good men are often 
treated with undeserved severity, that they are unapprec- 
iated and injured in their reputation. On the other hand, 
the wickedness of a large number of men remains unknown, 
they everywhere enjoy public esteem and trust, and the 
world accords them that consideration and praise which is 
due to the just alone. So a judgement is necessary which 
exposes every pretence, unmasks all hypocrisy, and lays 
bare hidden ruses and all false and base virtues. This 
judgement, St. John tells us, will not take place "accord- 
ing to the flesh, nor according to that which the eyes see 
and the ears hear": it will be accomplished in the dazzl- 
ing splendour of the light of God, in the discernment of 
all intentions and all desires, the full intuition of the 
most secret and mysterious recesses of the heart: corda 
omnium intuendo. [128] 

Lastly, a third reason given by St. Thomas is that 
God governs men by means adapted to the circumstances of 
their nature, and will judge them according to the prom- 
ises He made them and the hopes which He aroused in them; 
whether rewarding or punishing them, He owes it to His 
wisdom to keep to the laws and limits of distributive 
justice such as He has fixed them in this life. Now, 

[128] Non est secundum carnem. (John 8) - Nee secundum visionem 
oculorum, aut audi turn aurium. (Isaias 2) - Sed corda omnium 
intuendo. (Kings 16) 

St. Paul himself calls the present life a course, a race, 
an arena; [129] he portrays man as a traveller on this 
earth, under the figure of a soldier or athlete rushing 
after his crown; he holds forth before us the prospect of 
eternal life, which he calls by the names of "palm, trophy, 
crown of justice, crown of life and glory." In order, 
then, that the reward may really match the promise, it has 
to be bestowed at a public assembly, with a pomp and 
ceremony worthy of Him who confers it, in the presence of 
all those who have taken part in the battle, of all the 
enemies over whom the saints have triumphed, following the 
manner in which ancient Rome and Greece used to act towards 
their victorious warriors and heroes. 

In what place will the last judgement be held? No 
one knows with the certainty of faith, but the general 
opinion of the Fathers, and that of St. Thomas, is that it 
will be in the valley of Josaphat. 

Holy Scripture gives this name to the region through 
which flows the Cedron torrent, which includes within its 
boundaries the town of Jerusalem and also Calvary, and 
extends as far as the Mount of Olives. Is it not, indeed, 
fitting that Christ should manifest Himself in His glory 
in the very places which were the scene of His agony, 
where He appeared in His sufferings and humiliations? 
Such was what the angels implied, when they said to the 
disciples: Hie Jesus qui assumptus est a vobis sic 
veniet - This Jesus who is taken up from you shall so 
come. Is it not also most appropriate that the part of 
the earth where the first man was created, [130] where the 
Son of God wrought the redemption and salvation of men, 
should likewise be the one where the saints will receive 
the fullness of the fruits in His Passion and Death, where 
they will take part in His glorious Ascension, and where 
Jesus Christ will exact a just vengeance on His persecutors, 
and on all those who have refused to wash their souls by 
the infinite power of His blood? 

It is for this reason that the prophet Joel exclaims 
in chapter 3: "And the Lord shall roar out of Sion and 
utter his voice from Jerusalem." Again, in the same 
chapter, he says: "I will gather together all nations and 
will bring them down into the valley of Josaphat: and I 
will plead [i.e. dispute] with them there for my 
people. .." [131] 

Therefore it is an indubitable truth that the judge- 
ment will be held in the valley of Josaphat. 

[129] Nescitis quod qui in stadio currunt, omnes quidem currunt, 
sed unus accipit bravium? Sic currite ut comprehendatis. (1 
Corinthians 9:24) - Corona justitiae, vitae et gloriae. (2 
Timothy 4:8) 

[130] It is not of faith that Adam was created on Calvary, but 
simply a tradition. 

[131] Dominus de_Sion rugiet, et de Jerusalem dabit vocem suam 
(Joel 3:16). Congregabo- omnes gentes et educam eas in vallem 
Josaphat et disceptabo r cum eis super populo meo. 


It is useless to object that our view cannot be 
sustained and that it is sufficiently refuted by the fact 
that the valley of Josaphat occupies a space less exten- 
sive and more confined than most of the Alpine valleys; 
and that, consequently, it could not possibly hold the 
thousands of millions of human beings who have followed 
one another, or will yet follow one another, on earth. 

St. Paul, in his epistle to the Thessalonians, re- 
solves and throws light on this difficulty: he reminds us 
that on the day of judgement the resurrected elect will 
not be massed together on earth, but "shall be taken up... 
to meet Christ, into the air." Our Lord Jesus Christ will 
descend into the region of the air, situated above the 
valley of Josaphat, and there, surrounded by His angels, 
He will sit on the throne of His Majesty. Is it not 
indeed fitting that, by reason of His dignity, the judge 
should be raised above all, on an elevated spot, from 
where He can be seen and heard by all men? Is it not 
equitable that, in consideration of merit and perfection, 
an honorable place nearer the Sovereign Judge should be 
assigned to the elect, who have been released from the 
laws of gravity and, possessing glorious and subtle 
bodies, will no longer need the earth for support? The 
reprobate alone will be detained on earth; [132] but, as 
Suarez points out, we should be wrong to imagine them 
restricted and confined within the narrow limits of the 
valley of Josaphat; their enormous number will extend, so 
far as necessary, into the surrounding area, to the Mount 
of Olives, the mountain of Sion, the site where Jerusalem 
stood and, perhaps, to remote areas. 

If it is said that the judgement will take place in 
the valley of Josaphat, this is because Christ will set up 
His throne above it, and because this valley will be the 
place in which mankind will begin to assemble. 

By whom will the judgement be executed? By Christ 
Jesus; not precisely by Christ Jesus as God, who shares the 
same substance and the same life with His Father, but by 
Christ Jesus inasmuch as He became incarnate in time and 
is called the Son of Man. It is said in St. John, chapter 
5: "For neither doth the Father judge any man; but hath 
given all judgement to the Son, that all men may honour 
the Son, as they honour the Father. " [133] He gave Him 

[132] Unum vero superest dubium explicandum si omnes justi 
futuri sunt in aere, damnati vero in terra, quomodo ad litter am 
intel ligendum sit, illos futuros esse ad dexteram, hos vero ad 
sinistram Christi. Dupliciter responderi potest. Primo, intel- 
ligendo ad litteram, dici potest omnes reprobos, etiamsi in 
terra sint, collocandos esse ad partem sinistram Christi, bonos 
vero in aere ad dexteram. Secundo modo et melius dicitur more 
Scripturae dexteram et sinistram significare felicitatis et 
infelicitatis, honoris vel abjectionis locum. Anselmus, XXXIV 
in Matthaeum sic exponit: A dextris, id est in aeterna beati- 
tudine. A sinistris, id est in aeterna miseria. (Suarez: 
Question LIX, Article VI.) 

[133] Neque enim Pater judicat quemquam: sed omne judicium dedit 
Filio ut omnes honorificent Filium, sicut honorificant Patrem. 
Et potestatem dedit ei judicium facere quia Filius hominis est. 
(John 5:22,23,27.) 


cower to judge, "because he is the Son of Man. Indeed, 
X God, Jesus Christ is equal to the Father, the expres- 
sion and image of His sovereign power, and possesses, 
co-naturally with the other two divine Persons, the right 
to judge which They have. From this point of view, Christ 
does not have to receive a second investiture, and it is 
only in considering Him as a man that St. John could say 
that He will be honoured by all, because of the judicial 
power conferred upon Him by His Father. 

In the following verse, St. John teaches us that 
Christ has received the power to restore the dead to life. 
"I say unto you that the hour cometh, is, when the 
dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. [13 4] 

This passage makes clear that the power to resurrect, 
conferred upon the Son of man, is a consequence of His 
capacity as judge. It is essential for the ex ercise o 
judicial authority, that he who is invested with it should 
have the means of summoning the guilty and bringing them 
up before his tribunal. As the judgement has to be exe- 
cuted over men, observes St. Thomas, it must be adapted to 
their capacities, it must take account of the demands and 
inclinations of their nature. Man, however, is composed of 
a soul and a body; he apprehends spiritual and invisible 
things only through the agency of tangible ■things ;: that 
being so, is it not essential that man should be judged by 
a man, by a being who appears in the- flesh, whose face he 
can see and whose voice he can hear? Rightly, St. John 
tells us: "et potestatem dedit ei judicium facere, quia 
filius hominis est." ("And he hath given him power to do 
judgement, because he is the Son of man. John 5:27) 

Furthermore, if we study things after our way of 
thinking, must not the judge be seen by all men summoned 
to his bar? Now, inasmuch as He has a human form, Christ 
will be seen by the just and the wicked simultaneously; 
inasmuch as He has a divine form, He can show Himself to 
the elect alone. Lastly, God the Father has entrusted the 
judgement to Jesus Christ, as man, in a spirit of kmd- 
nesX in order to temper the brilliance of this awesome 
manifestation, and to soften its severity and rigour; for 
the Church tells us in her liturgy: 

Y?hat horror will invade the mind 
When the strict Judge, who would be kind, 
Shall have few venial faults to find! 
(Dies Irae) 

If Christ were to appear in the aspect of a superior 
and altogether celestial nature, what human being would 
manage to bear the weight of His majesty and the fire of 
His gaze? He will appear, then, with the face and form 
which He had during His mortal life; He will have His 
Cross and the other marks of His humiliations precede Him, 
He will let the scars of the wounds in His feet and hands 
be seen: Videbunt in quern transf ixerunt; the reprobate 
will no longer dare to oppose His justice, and the good in 
their turn will feel drawn to Him in deeper trust. The 
- heart of St. Paul was filled with : oy and hope: as he 
reflected that Christ was to be his judge, _ he felt- all 

[134] Amen, amen dico vobis, quia venit hora et nunc est, quando 
mortui audient vocem Filii Dei, et qui audiermt, vivent. (John 


his fears and distrust vanish. "Who shall accuse against 
the elect of God?" he said. "God is he that justified. 
Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus that died; 
yea, that is risen also again;- who is at the^right hand of 
God, who also maketh intercession for us. "[135] 

As for the manner of this second -coming, it will be 
like the first: sic veniet quemadmodum vidistis -eum euntem 
in coelis; it will be the same Christ and the same man, 
and His features and appearance will be the same as during 
His mortal life; it will be enough for those who lived 
and spoke with Him to set eyes on His person in order to 
recognize Him. However, this second manifestation will 
not come in weakness and humiliation, but in majesty and 
glory. St. Matthew's Gospel says: "I say to you, here- 
after you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right 
hand of the power of God and coming in the clouds of 
heaven." [136] In other words, Jesus Christ will appear 
surrounded by the pomp and apparel of divine kingship. 
The glorxfxed elect and the multitude of angels will form 
a resplendent court around His throne, such as no mind 
could portray. Those who have fought with the greatest 
constancy, who have followed Him the most closely in the 
arena of His sufferings, will be the nearest to His 
person. "Then shall the just stand with great constancy," 
says the Book of Wisdom, "against those that have afflict- 
ed them and taken away their labours." 

We can imagine the regrets and despair of the damned 
by virtue of the picture which the same inspired author 
draws of them: 

"These seeing it shall be troubled with terrible 
fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their 
unexpected salvation. 

"Saying within themselves, repenting, and groaning 
for anguish of spirit: These are they whom we had some 
time in derision and for a parable of reproach. 

"We fools esteemed their life madness and their end 
without honour. 

"Behold how they are numbered among the children of 
God, and their lot is among the saints. 

" Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and 
the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun 
of understanding hath not risen upon us. "[137] 

The apostles, martyrs, doctors and thousands of the 
just, who have fought for the honour of God and for the 
interests of the Faith, will unite with their leader in 
proclaiming the truth of His sentences, and the equity of 
His judgements. 

[135] Quis accusabit adversus electos Dei? Deus qui justificat 
Quis est qui condemnet? Christus Jesus qui mortuus est, imo 
qui et resurrexit, qui est ad dexteram Dei, qui etiam inter- 
pellat pro nobis. (Romans 8:33,34) 

[136] Verumtamen dico vobis, amodo videbitis filium hominis 

S ,t !?K em L d ^ X v tris virtutis °ei et venientem in nubibus coeli. 
(Matthew 26:64) 

[137] Wisdom 5:1-6 


This judgement is rightly called universal because it 
will be exercised over all members of the human race, 
because it will cover every crime, every misdemeanour, and 
because it will be definitive and irrevocable. 

In the first place, the last judgement will be exer- 
cised over all members of the human race. [138] 

The men of every nation, every tribe and every tongue 
will appear at it. There will be no more distinction ot 
wealth, birth and rank among them. Those whose names were 
Alexander, Caesar and Diocletian will be jumbled together 
with herdsmen who, at this moment, are" grazing their 
flocks on unknown, deserted shores, where the ashes ot 
these masters of the world lie scattered. Men will then 
be ruled by concerns other than those of curiosity and 
empty admiration. Far more serious spectacles will hold 
their gaze and attention; the figure of the world will 
have passed away, and the victories of great captains, the 
works conceived by genius, the enterprises and great 
discoveries, will be deemed mere shams and child s play. 

Just as in the theatre, says St. John Chrysostom, 
when an actor goes off the stage, it is not because of the 
part he has played that people admire him; they praise 
neither the fact that he has imitated the personality of a 
king, nor the fact that he has acted a lackey or a beggar: 
rather, they praise his skill, and they applaud only the 
perfection with which he has played his part. So at the 
last judgement, a man will not be honoured because he was 
a king, an eloquent orator, a minister and a great states- 
man. All these honours and distinctions, which the world 
holds in such high esteem, will be deemed of no merit and 
of no value. Men will be praised solely for their virtues 
and good works: Opera enim illorum sequuntur lllos. llJyj 

Secondly, this judgement is called universal, because 
it will cover every crime and offence. 

Only then will human history begin. In the clarity 
of the light of God, all the crimes, public and secret, 
which have been committed in every latitude and in every 
aqe, will be seen clearly and in detail. The whole life 
of each human being will be laid bare. No circumstance 
will be omitted: no action, word or desire will remain 
unknown. We shall be reminded of the different periods we 
have gone through; the lustful man will have his dis- 
orderly living and libertine speeches set out before him; 
the ambitious man, his devious, Machiavellian ways. 

The judgement will unravel and bring out all the 
strands and the duplicity of those intrigues, so cleverly 
hatched; it will set out in their true light all those 
base repudiations of principles, those craven acts of 
complicity, which men invested with public authority have 
sought to justify, whether by invoking the specious pre- 
text of reasons of State, or by covering them up with the 
mask of piety or disinterestedness. The Lord, says 

[138] Inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos. 
[139] Apocalypse 14:13. 


St. Bernard, will reveal all those abuses which people 
concealed from themselves, all those unknown dissipatxons, 
those planned crimes where the only thing lacking was the 
actual commission; those pretended virtues and those 
forgotten, secret sins, blotted out from the memory, will 
appear suddenly, like enemies darting out from an ambush: 
Prodient ex improviso et quasi ex insidiis. 

Without doubt there are men so hardened in evil that 
the thought of this terrible manifestation has little 
effect upon them. Being familiar with crime, they treat 
it as a subject of amusement and boasting. And without 
they fondly imagine that they will assume the same effront- 
ery at the judgement,^ and, by their cynical, arrogant 
attitude, defy the majesty of God and the conscience of 
the human race. Vain hope! Sin will no longer be viewed 
from the opinion of carnal men, ready to excuse the most 
violent outbursts because they do not harm any neighbour, 
either in his goods or in his life. The foulness and 
disorder of sin will be revealed in the ineffable clarity 
of the light of God. Sin, says St. Thomas, will be judged 
as God Himself judges it: Tunc confusio respiciet aestimat- 
ionem Dei quae secundum veritatem est de peccato. 

Three main classes of men will draw attention to 

The first of these will be the sons of justice and 
light, whose merits and good works will be extolled, and 
given public approbation and praise by the perspicacious, 
infallible Judge, Whose testimony can admit of no error or 

In the second class will be the sons of Voltaire, the 
leaders of free -thought and the Revolution who, at the 
present time, are hatching dark and sacrilegious plots 
against Christ and His Church. They will be terror- 
stricken, and they will tremble with unspeakable horror, 
when they see appear in His glory and omnipotence Him Whom 
they had wished to crush, Whom they had stigmatized by 
calling him enemy , fool and the infamous one . They will 
utter a final scream of rage and malediction, crying out 
like Julian the Apostate: Thou hast conquered, Galilean! 

The third category of men who will be given special 
attention at the judgement will be composed of the sons of 
Pilate, the worshippers of the golden calf and the chame- 
leons of wealth and power. Clouds without water, as St. 
Jude calls them, drifting along with every opinion and 
doctrine, with no other religious or political compass 
than that of their ambition, always ready to ride rough- 
shod over their conscience and their principles; specu- 
lating on the blood of souls, for lack of gold, and del- 
ivering up Christ like the Roman money-lender, in order to 
purchase the honours and goodwill of the master of the 

This hideous, repellent type recurs continuously, with the 
same characteristics, at every period of crisis and social 
unrest. St. John, in his Gospel, has popularized this 
archetype of lying and cowardice in a figure of speech for 
ever popular and living, in which all our Pilates in 


legislation and government, who sell the just man for the 
sake of procuring favours and lucrative honours, will be 
eternally recognized. Such men as these will learn at the 
judgement that it is not expedient to serve two masters. 
They will curse the straw Caesars to which they rendered 
that which they refused to render to God, and will exclaim: 
"Ergo erravimus. Therefore we have erred. [140]" 

Finally, the last judgement is called universal, 
because it is definitive and irrevocable. 

The judgement is irrevocable, because there is no 
level of jurisdiction higher than God's, and there can be 
no appeal from absolute justice to relat-ive and limited 
justice. So there will be no reinstatement, no partial or 
complete amnesty. Divine sentences are irreformable, and 
He Who sees all things, Who has foreseen the crux and 
conclusion of human destiny in the eternal decrees of 
predestination, is not a being likely to go back on His 
judgements. What He has said, He will fulfil; what He has 
done, He will confirm. What He once desired will remain 
eternally fixed, for Heaven and earth will pass away, but 
the Word of God will not be subject to any error or change 
Coelum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non praeteri- 
bunt. [141] 

These great truths make little impression on us, 
because the day of their fulfilment is only a faint pros- 
pect, set in the distant future, and because we fondly 
imagine that, between now and the time when they are 
fulfilled, we shall mitigate their severity. It is true 
that the deliberations of these great assizes still lie 
ahead of us, but the preliminary examination has begun and 
it continues. It is written: "The eyes of the Lord are 
upon the just. . . But the countenance of the Lord is against 
them that do evil things. . .he that loveth iniquity hateth 
his own soul." [142] 

Just as, in our times, the telegraph has become a 
marvellous means of communication among men, instant- 
aneously transmitting our orders and our every word from 
one point of space to another with the rapidity of light- 
ning, so there is likewise a divine telegraph: each of our 
thoughts, the very moment it is conceived, each of our 
words, as soon as it is uttered, is immediately trans- 
cribed in indelible letters, and with frightening accur- 
acy, into that great book mentioned in the sacred liturgy, 
where it is said: Tunc liber scriptus proferetur, in quo 
totum continetur, unde mundus judicetur . [143] 

Let us not, then, be intimidated by the arrogance and 
dark threats of the wicked, we who, at this moment, are 
subjected to violence and oppression, whose rights are 
unrecognized and trampled underfoot, and who, exposed to 
the ruses and machinations of faithless men, suffer the 
odious excesses of despotism and force. If God is silent 
and seems at this moment to be asleep, He will unfailingly 

[140] Wisdom 5:6. _ __ :_ 

[141] Matthew 24:35. r - -> 

[142] Psalm 33:16; Psalm 10:6. 

[14 3] Text of Office of the Dead: Dies Irae. 


awaken in His own time. We repeat, the examination has 
begun, the files of evil men are complete, the witnesses 
have been summoned and the evidence has been requisi- 
tioned.. If the most solemn hearing of all has been 
adjourned, it is for a short period only. 

The story is told of a proud, valiant and high-minded 
prince of Brittany, who was defeated and taken prisoner by 
a fierce rival and sent to languish in a dark dungeon, 
where he was kept short of air, bread and sunshine; his 
end was not long in coming, amidst- horror and under the 
pressure of a coldly calculated, slow torture. On the 
point of death, the victim addressed a summons to his 
murderer in these terms: 

"I appeal against your violence and your barbarism to 
the Supreme Protector of the oppressed, and in a year and 
a day I shall summon you to appear with me at His divine 
tribunal." When the day came, the murderer did indeed 
pass from life to death. 

We are not a prophet, and we should not venture to 
summon at such short notice all wicked men, the pamph- 
leteers of free-thought, the instigators of unjust laws, 
those who violate the honour and liberty of the family, 
and the rights and virtue of children; but that those men 
who defy God and deride His threats will one day have a 
minute and rigorous account to render to His justice... is 

an absolutely certain truth and, sooner or later, they 

will settle that account. On the day of solemn repar- 
ation, the wicked who called the just fools, who glutted 
themselves on their tortures and tears, like starving men 
devouring bread, will learn to their cost that God does 
not suffer Himself to be mocked, and that there will be no 
impunity or licence for the benefit of crime and evil. 

All wrongs will be strikingly redressed. The blood 
of Abel which washed the earth will gush out over Cain, 
and raise an accusing voice against him. St. Peter will 
demand an account of Nero for the torture to which he 
sentenced him. Mary Stuart will call down the divine 
vengeance upon the head of Elizabeth of England, her 
murderer. All the saints will cry out with one voice to 
God: Usquequo, Domine, non judicas et non vindicas san- 
quinem nostrum de iis qui habitant in terra. [144] 

It will be a great court of appeal, to which an 
immense number of cases, famous on earth, will be refer- 
red, where an infinite number of judgements which fear, 
ambition or self-interest have dictated to men, will be 
irrevocably annulled, where, in a word, Providence, 
against which fools blasphemed on earth, with accusations 
that it was harsh, unjust and blindly partial, will pro- 
vide complete justification for its ways, as it is 
written: Ut. vincas cum judicaris . [145] 

[144] Apocalypse 6:10. 
[145] Psalm 50:6. 


The story is told of a man in Germany who lived by 
himself, and was held in renown on account of his holiness 
and his works; he cured the sick, restored the sight of 
the blind and drew the people of the surrounding area to 
his dwelling. The Emperor Otto determined to go to visit 
him; captivated by the words of wisdom which flowed from 
the saint's lips, his admiration knew no bounds: "Father," 
he said, "ask of me what you please and, were it half my 
kingdom, you will receive it." 

The saint's expression became solemn, and, majestic- 
ally, he raised his head, crowned, as -it were, with a 
diadem of nobility and virtue; placing his hand upon the 
emperor's breast, he solemnly replied: "Prince, I have no 
use for your crown and your treasures; but I ask of you 
one favour, that, amidst the pomp and fascination of your 
omnipotence and majesty, you should withdraw each day, for 
a few moments, into the hidden recesses of your heart, in 
order to reflect upon the account which you will one day 
render to God; for, as St. Clement, the pope, says: Quis 
peccare poterit, si semper ante oculos suos Dei judicium 
ponat, quod in fine mundi certum est agitandum? Who shall 
be able to sin if he always places before his eyes the 
judgement of God which will certainly be exacted at the 
end of the world?" [146] 

Let us do likewise and say with the prophet: Cogitavi 
dies antiquos et annos aeternos in mente habui - I thought 
upon the days of old: and I had in my mind the eternal 
years. [147] Let us judge ourselves rigorously, and we 
shall not be judged. Let us live with the Lord Jesus all 
the days of our life, and then we shall be freed from all 
fear, for there is no condemnation upon those who dwell 
with the Lord Jesus: Nihil ergo nunc damnationis iis qui 
sunt in Christo - There is now therefore no condemnation 
to them that are in Christ Jesus. [14 8] 

[146] St. Clement: Epistle to James . 
[147] Psalm 76:6. 
[14 8] Romans 8:1. 



The location of immortal life 
or the state of the glorified bodies 
after the resurrection. 

Et dixit qui sedebat in throno: 
Ecce nova facio omnia. 

And he that sat on the throne said: 
Behold, I make all things new. 
(Apolcalypse 21:5) 

The visible sky and the earth where we live are no 
more than a place of passage, a mobile tent pitched for a 
day, the preparation and crude sketch of a better world. 

The present world is like a workshop where everything 
is in ferment and labour. The elements break against each 
other and decompose, to assume new forms; they are borne 
swiftly along in mutual pursuit; every creature groaneth 
and travaileth in pain, even till now: Omnis creatura 
inqemiscit et parturit usque adhuc. [149] They sigh for 
the day when, freed from bondage and corruption, they will 
enter into the glory and liberty of the sons of God, when 
the Creator will renew them in a more perfect and harmon- 
ious order. 

That is why the world will have an end, in the true 
sense of the word, and, by transforming earth and sky, 
this end will make the universe the place of immortality. 

One of the leading lights of contemporary science has 
spoken these sublime words: "No doubt the earth, in its 
perpetual revolutions, seeks the place of its repose." 

Leibnitz said: "The world will be destroyed and 
reconstructed within the space of time which the spiritual 
government deems fitting." Again, a writer of the Prot- 
estant school has said: "It is probable that this rich 
variety is seeking its unity. All creatures will gather 
in a school of goodness and beauty. The flowers of all 
worlds will be assembled in the same garden. " [150] 

[149] Romans 8:22. 

[150] Herder: Idee sur la Philosophie , book 1, ch.2, 


There is, moreover, one of our Master's sayings, 
which'makes "this expectation a certainty The Lor d t ells 
us- "Heaven and earth shall pass. . .the stars shall tail 
rrom Heaven and the powers of Heaven shall be moved. [151] 
The Prophet "oavid] had once said: "In the beginning, 
Lord Sou foundedst the earth: and the heavens are the 
works of thy hands. They shall perish but ^ou remaxnest: 
and all of them shall grow old like a garment: and as a 
vesture thou shalt change them and they shall be changed. 
(Psalm 101: 26,27) 

in what state will creation and all creatures be, 
when they have irrevocably broken their ancient fetters 
£5 matured into repose - into full and oo^^, 1 ^ 
win the earth still turn upon its axis? Will tne 
heavenly bodies, moving along at a dizzy speed, revolve 
around their centre as they do now? Will the stars con- 
tinue to emit only a faint, cold gleam amidst the immen- 
sity of space? These are grave and mysterious questions, 
which it would be futile for human reason to seek to 
resolve if were not aided by the light of revelation. 
St no' one will dispute that this study on the place of 
immortal life and of man's dwelling place in the age to 
comers a study, incomparably -re serious and worthy °f 
onr attention than those narrow studies which captivate 
Sen, t^es'oTe 11 object of which is to snatch from ^chang- 
ing, ephemeral nature of this world a few of its vain, 
worthless secrets. 

Men such as rationalists and pantheists, who do not 
share our hopes but who, nevertheless accept --Jtality 
and a future life, do not know how to define the cxxcum 
stances in which the spirits will live after death, aney 
imagine Sem as useless, erratic figures, wandering around 

M511 Unbelievers have derided this fall of the stars, landing 
on the earth like hailstones. Was the Son of God - we may 
?e P ly - unaware that there are other centres of attractxor » 
the world besides the earth? He did not say that the stars 

^^ 9 - ^ord 1 ^ ^^^rtiZSSSZ 
S" Nonetheless in Apocalypse 6 ,13 Holy Scrip ture e , , cl tly 
„ '. « And the stars from heaven fell upon the earth . J At tne 
Preset day groups of stars have been oberved, in other words 
groups of sun's having, a common centre of gravxty r a^md which 
thev describe, not circles and ellipses, but spirals, tnese 
spirals cSmiAate in the centre; they are thousands of worlds 
wKS are coming together and will for ever be but one (P. 

Gratry: ^J*^**^^' Bo^, ^"^^Jos 
Reli^ieusey ^f the^Fathers % the .Society of Jesus, October,- 

18?9 '[Note by the publishers _of the English edition. Once 
aqain Fr Arminjon shows that he has allowed himself to be 
misled by the assertions and unproved assumptions of nineteenth 
rSnturv scientists. There is no objective evidence of stars or 
SnsdLcribing circles or spirals -or anything » else nor xndeed 
of anv of the so-called fixed stars moving at all in relation 
So one another Moreover it will be noted in Fr Arming s 
next paragraph in the main text that he asks if the earth will 
"still turn on its axis," which - there is no evidence of its 
ever having done - indeed quite the contrary. The relevant 
scientific 9 f arts relating to these subjects have been put to- 
gether in two essays, available from the publishers, called 
Galileo Versus the Geocentric Theory of the Dniverse and -Sir 
T^^^wF^^jid-MBdern Astronomy , both by N.M. Gwynne.] 


in ethereal, undefined space, not restricted to any fixed 
abode, like shadows bereft of their consciousness and 
personality, immersed in that supreme being called the all 
in all ; or like rivers, sunk in the depths of the ocean. 
A fantastic, imaginary immortality, which is simply a cold 
picture of eternal gloom, a dark dream of fate and no- 
thingness. — --'""_. r ^ 

Holy Scripture contradicts all these fables and idle 
hypotheses. It teaches us that at the time of the second 
advent of Christ the earth in which we live and the sky 
which gives us light will be the scene of two contrasting 

The first of these changes will be the complete 
destruction of the present physical order. St. Peter 
says: "...the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in 
which the heavens shall pass away with great violence and 
the elements shall be melted with heat and the earth and 
the works which are in it shall be burnt up. "[152] Thus 
this visible world, once engulfed by the waters of the 
Flood, is destined to perish once more, and will be set 
aflame. The same cause which brought about the Flood will 
produce the final cataclysm; the earth will be destroyed, 
because the sins of men have soiled it. The elements will 
be entirely dissolved because, albeit without their own 
volition, they were made subject to vanity. The heavens 
will be hurled back with extraordinary swiftness because 
they too, in the words of Job, are not pure in the sight 
of the Lord. [153] 

The second change, however, - the total restoration 
of creation - will take place as soon as the ruin of the 
universe has been consummated. This radiant, predestined 
temple, which . the Lord will build as the most striking 
manifestation of His glory, cannot be for a single moment 
darkened and profaned by the presence of the reprobate. 
It will be only when these have been engulfed in the 
depths of the earth, and when the words "infernus et mors 
missi sunt in stagnum ignis - Hell and death were cast 
into the pool of fire" (Apocalypse 20:14) have been ful- 
filled, that material creation will be set free and God 
will proceed with the great renovation. 

St. Augustine says: "When the judgement has been 
accomplished, heaven and earth will cease to subsist." St. 
Peter (in 2 Peter 3:13) declares: "...we look for new 
heavens and a new earth, according to his promises, in 
which justice dwelleth. " [154] 

The universe will then be subjected to other laws; 
the sun and the heavenly bodies will no longer execute 
their revolutions, and the heavens and the earth will 
remain stable and at rest. False science vainly protests 
against the affirmations of the Sacred Books, and alleges 
that they are at variance with the laws of matter and the 
principles* governing the elements: but how do we know that 
movement is an essential property of the elements and 

[152] Adveniet autem dies Domini, sicut fur in quo coeli magno 
impetu transient, elementa vero calore solventur, terra autem 
et quae in ipsa sunt opera exurentur. (2 Peter 3:10) 

[153] Coeli non sunt mundi in conspectu Domini. (Job 15:15) 

[154] Novos vero coelos et novam terrain secundum promissa ipsius 
expectamus. (2 Peter 3:13) 


matter?[155] Matter and the elements created for man are 
only his servants and auxiliaries: the Creator desired to 
adapt them to our circumstances and mode of existence. 
Now, when we are travellers and live in impermanence, 
matter is subject to alteration and change; but when man 
comes into the realm of the perpetual and absolute, the 
elements will be brought into harmony with the new life 
with which he will be endowed. Time will be no more: 
Quia tempus non erit amplius , nor will there be henceforth 
any mutation of years and days. "The sun shall go down no 
more and thy moon shall not decrease. " [156] 

"For the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting 
light: and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." [157] 

Thus, creation will not perish: the temple of immort- 
ality will not be an ethereal, incorporeal place, as some 
imagine and teach, but a material abode and a city. St. 
Anselm describes this new earth when he says: "This earth, 
which sustained and nourished the holy body of the Lord, 
will be a paradise. Because it has been washed with the 
blood of martyrs, it will be eternally ornamented with 
sweet-smelling flowers, violets and roses which will not 
wither." [158] 

William of Paris, after declaring that the animals, 
plants and mineral substances themselves will be burnt and 
destroyed by fire, adds: "A large number of learned men 
among Christians consider that, after the resurrection, 
the earth will be bedecked with new, evergreen species and 
incorruptible flowers, and that a perpetual spring-time 
and beauty will therein prevail, as in the paradise in 
which our fathers were placed. " [159] The following words 
of the Prophet seem to concur with the view expressed by 
these two doctors: Send forth thy spirit, and they shall be 
created; and thou shalt renew the face of the earth. "[160] 

As for the order, dimensions and structure of the 
temple of immortality, St John depicts it for us in chap- 
ter 21 of the Apocalypse. 

In fact, in order to give us a picture of such 
transcendental realities, which go beyond the conceptions 

[155] Juxta veriorem philosophiam coelum ex peculiari ac propria 
natura non magis postulat motum quam quietem; sed in ordine ad 
naturam universalem seu generalem mundi gubernationem, illud 
dicitur esse illi magis naturale quod iuxta totius universi 
statum magis consentaneum, magisque accomodatum fuerit. (St. 
Thomas: Summa Theologica , quaest. v, de Potent. A.S.) 

[156] Non occidet ultra sol, et luna ultra non minuetur. (Isaias 

[157] Quia erit tibi Dominus in lucem sempiternam et comple- 
buntur dies luctus. (Isaias 60:20) 

[158] Terra quae in gremio suo Domini corpus confovit, tota erit 
" _u.t paradisus, et quia sanctorum sanguine est irrigata odori- 
feris floribus, rosis, violis immarcessibi liter erit decorata. : 
(St. Anselm: in Elucid .) 

[159] De terra quidam ex sapientissimis Christianorum discerunt, 
quod graminibus semper virentibus, et immarcescibilibus flori- 
bus, ac perpetua amaenitate, instar paradisi terrestris, sit 
decoranda. (William of Paris: Cujus verba refert Carthusianus ) 

[16 0] Emitte spiritum tuum et creabuntur et renovabis faciem 
terrae. (Psalm 103:30) 


of our mind, he is obliged to resort to enigmatic images 
and to obscure, mysterious expressions. To bring out the 
perfection and harmony of this glorious city, he tells us 
that it is built entirely of polished, hewn stones. In 
order to describe its richness and splendour, he tells us 
that "it had a wall great and high, having twelve gates, 
and in the gates twelve angels;. ..and the city lieth in a 
four square, and the length thereof is as great as the 
breadth. And he that spoke with me measured the wall 
thereof, a hundred and forty-four cubits. . .and the build- 
ing of the wall thereof was of jasper-stone; but the city 
itself of pure gold, like to clear glass. And the found^ 
ations of the wall of the city were adorned with all 
manner "of. precious stones. The first foundation was 
jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the 
fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; .. .the twelfth an 
amethyst. And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, one to 
each, and every several gate was of one several pearl. 
And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were, 
transparent glass. .." [161] 

All these expressions and images are to be understood 
in the figurative sense, and interpreted allegorically. 

There are, however, certain characteristics to be 
kept in mind, which signify that the abode of the glori- 
fied elect will present no analogy with the places where 
we live in this world. St. John tells us in the same 
chapter that there will be no temple, for the reason that 
the all-powerful Lord God and Lamb are themselves the 
temple. [162] Nor will there be sun or moon any more, 
because the brightness of God is the light, and the immo- 
lated Lamb is Himself the lamp. [163] We may, by analogy 
and induction, conclude that there will be no courts of 
law, because there will be no wars or strife. Nor will 
there be any more despots or tyrants, since the Lord will 
be the strength and the ornament of the inhabitants of 
this city, and will ordain that they shall reign etern- 
ally: Quoniam Dominus illuminabit illos, et regnabunt in 
saecula saeculorum - Because the Lord God shall enlighten 
them, and they shall reign for ever and ever. [164] St. 
John himself gives grounds for all these various interpret- 
ations when he tells us, in Apocalypse 21:27, that "there 
shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh 
abomination or maketh a lie," and when he informs us in 
the preceding verses that "the gates thereof shall not be 
shut by day; for there shall be no night there. And they 
shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it." 

What is certain is that everything in this city will 
be peaceful and divinely ordained. Sorrow and envy will 
be for ever banished from it; for, as St. Augustine ex- 
plains, "sorrow and envy proceed from our evil passions 
and desires, which make us covet another's goods; but, in 
the city of God, there will no longer be any desires, 
since all those that the elect have ever felt will be 
entirely satisfied: the Lamb will quench their thirst 
in the stream of living water, and their thirst will be 

[161] Apocalypse 21:11-21. 

[162] Apocalypse 21:22. 

[163] Apocalypse 21:23. 

[164] Apocalypse 22:5. 


fully quenched ." [165] Secondly, there will be no such 
goods to covet. In the Holy City, the goods and the wealth 
will be none other than the God - Charity , Who will give 
Himself wholly to each of the elect in accordance with the 
degree and extent of his merits. Thus the totality of 
angels and men will be associated in perfect unity, by 
virtue of Him Who is called the first-born of creation, 
the head of the body of the Church, Who has received the 
primacy of all things, [166] so that God may be all in all: 
Ut sit Deus omnia in omnibus. [167] 

Such are the sentiments and teaching of the Faith and 
the Sacred Books; but, from the same texts which we have 
quoted, sacred theology infers and sets out prominently 
applications which are equally certain, and points of view 
that are just as illuminating. 

Theology starts from the principle that, after the 
resurrection, the elements and material nature will be 
adapted to the circumstances of the glorious bodies; 
consequently, we need only recall what we are taught about 
the state of the glorious bodies for our minds to be able 
to open upon new horizons, and form a clearer and more 
precise idea of this palace of the renewed creation, 
destined one day to be our domain and dwelling place. 

The first prerogative which the resurrected bodies of 
the elect will enjoy will be that of subtility . Just as 
the risen Lord passed through a _tomb which was sealed, 
and, the following day, appeared suddenly before His 
disciples in a room the doors of which were closed, so our 
bodies, when they are no longer composed of an inert and 
gross substance but are vivified and penetrated at every 
point by the spirit, corpus spirituale , will pass through 
space like a ray of sunshine, and no corporeal object will 
have the capacity to hold them back. 

The second property of the glorious bodies will be 
agility . They will run like sparks across reeds, tamquam 
scintillae in arundineto discurrent . [168] They will have 
the ability to move with the swiftness of thought itself, 
and, wherever the mind wishes, the body will convey itself 

Thus, our bodies will no longer be bound to the earth 
by the force of attraction but, freed from all corruption 
and all gravity, they will spring up according to their 
desire; and, just as the Lord was taken up to Heaven, so 
shall we be raised up to meet Him in the air, and we, too, 
will fly, seated upon clouds. 

Even now, the present physical order offers us an 
image and a faint reflection of this new state to which 
our nature will one day be raised. Do not imponderable 
elements, such as electricity and magnetism freely pass 

[165] St. Augustine; City " of God , last book, last chapter. 

[166] Consummans in unum per eum qui est primogenitus omnis 
creaturae> caput corporis Ecclesiae, in omnibus primatum 
tenens. (Colossians 1:18) 

[167] 1 Corinthians 15:28 

[168] Wisdom 3:7. 


through the densest and most opaque substances, and do 
they not move rapidly and effortlessly through granite and 
metals? It will be likewise with our bodies after the 
resurrection. Matter will no longer be able to stop or 
circumscribe them. Baseness will be absorbed in glory, 
the tangible in the spiritual, the human in the divine. 

""-- There will be no more disease, no more death, and 
therefore no nourishment, no procreation and no differ- 
entiation of sex. Our flesh, at present weak and subject 
to a thousand ailments,^ will become impassible, endowed 
with a strength, solidity and consistency which will free 
it forever from all change, weariness and alteration. 

Lastly, the resurrected elect will possess bright- 
ness. They will be encompassed with such splendour that 
they will appear like so many suns: Tunc justi fulgebunt 
sicut sol in regno Patris eorum. [169] In fact, this 
brightness will be distributed in different degrees among 
the elect, according to the inequality of their merits; 
for the brightness of the sun is one thing, that of the 
moon is another and that of the. stars yet another. The 
stars themselves differ from one another in brightness. 
So shall it be at the resurrection of the dead. [170] 

The elect who appear surrounded with most glory will 
be the doctors: "But they that are learned shall shine as 
the brightness of the firmament: and they that instruct 
many to justice, as stars for all eternity. " [171] The 
brightness with which the elect will be adorned will un- 
ceasingly cast out new reflections, increasing every 
moment: the glorified saints will eternally communicate to 
each other the goods they possess, and they will reflect 
upon one another the streams of splendour which illuminate 
them. The source and centre of this divine brightness 
will be none other than God Himself Who, in the words of 
St. John, is all "light" and in whom there is no admixture 
of imperfection and darkness: Cum apparuerit, similes ei 
erimus, quoniam videbimus eum sicuti est. [172] 

The vision of God, which the elect will contemplate 
face to face, in its essence, will inundate their souls 
with its most ineffable irradiations, and their souls, in 
turn, will illuminate their bodies, which will appear 
surrounded with as much brightness as created nature can 

From this entire doctrine, we may draw the certain 
conclusion that our bodies will enter a mode of existence 
utterly different from their way of life on earth, that 
they will be ennobled, embellished and transfigured to 
such an extent that, between this new state and the 
present one, there will be an infinitely greater difference 

[169] Matthew 13:43. 

[170] Ephesians 15:41,42. 

[171] Qui autem docti fuerint fulgebunt quasi spendor firm- 
amenti. Et qui ad justitiam erudiunt multos, quasi stellae in 
perpetuas aeternitates. (Daniel 12:3) 

[172] 1 John 1:5. 


than between an inert rock and the most brilliant sun- 
beams, or between the purest gold and the foulest, murk- 
iest slime. 

Furthermore, it is written that the bodies of the 
saints will be modelled and formed after the risen body of 
Christ: Configurati corpori claritatis Christi - made like 
to the body of the glory of Christ. [173] Jesus Christ in 
the Eucharist gives us an image and likeness of what the 
glorious bodies will be like one day. Without leaving 
Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of His Father, 
He is substantially present every day on earth, in a 
thousand places. He is entire, without reduction or dimin- 
ution, in each particle of the Host and in each drop of 
the Chalice. By this supernatural and incomprehensible 
mode of existence, does He not show that those who have 
launched into the new life are no longer bound or governed 
by the laws of the present physical nature, and that inert 
matter can place no obstacle against the goodness and 
infinite power of God? 

As we look over the lives of the saints, we again 
find innumerable analogies of that state to which we shall 
be raised in the life to come. 

As soon as a soul has soared towards God and the 
spirit from above has come down into it, raising it beyond 
the tyranny of the senses and the bondage of the lower 
appetites, it happens that the flesh experiences the 
after-effects of the new life with which the soul is 
endowed, and often feels the anticipated effects of that 
glorious freedom which the children of God will enter. 
Saints like Teresa and a multitude of ecstatic souls, 
interiorly consumed by the fire of the Seraphim, have 
risen up of themselves, unsupported, into the air. St. 
Maur, the disciple of St. Benedict, used to walk dry-shod 
over the water. Others, such as St. Francis Xavier and 
St. Alphonsus Liguori, were released from the laws of 
space and were seen simultaneously preaching, praying in a 
town, attending a sick person or going to the aid of 
shipwrecked men in the most distant places. 

On other occasions, the light which the spirit of God 
has poured into the souls of the saints becomes visible on 
their features, their clothing and their whole person, 
illuminating them with a halo, by which they appear glor- 
iously surrounded. So it should be; for those who sow in 
the flesh reap corruption, and those who sow in the spirit 
reap life everlasting. [174] 

There is yet another certain truth which is of faith, 
and it is that once the judgement has been completed Jesus 
Christ will immediately ascend back to Heaven, with all 
His elect- as escort* He will point out to each of them 
the place which He prepared for him on the day of His 
Ascension: Vado parare vobis locum - I go to prepare a 
place for you. (John 14:2) ■ - 

[173] Philippiahs 3:20. 
[174] Galatians 6:8 


For a dwelling-place, the elect will have the empy- 
rean heaven, the one which is above all the heavenly 
bodies and all corporeal, visible nature. As it is writ- 
ten: "Then we who are alive. . .shall be taken up together 
with them in the clouds to meet Christ in the air; and so 
we shall always be -with the Lord. " [175] 

Does it follow that the rest of creation, the heaven- 
ly bodies and our sublunary world will remain empty and 
depopulated? If this were so, why would divine wisdom 
rebuild them on a new plan, and adorn them with all the 
marvels of His splendour and beauty? St. Thomas teaches us 
that Heaven is destined to serve as the abode and princi- 
pal habitation of the glorified saints, but they will not 
on that account be motionless, and restricted within a 
fixed place. Each of the elect will have his throne, and 
they will occupy higher abodes and places, according to 
their merit, but, observes St. Thomas, the word place, 
locum , is to be understood rather as excellence of rank, 
order of primacy, than as the eminence of the place which 
will be assigned. If Christ were momentarily to leave 
Heaven, the place where He went to reside would always be 
the worthiest and highest, and the other places the more 
honourable as they were closer to the one occupied by 
Christ; and do not the angels, who enjoy glory, descend 
from Heaven and return there at their pleasure? It must 
be concluded that the temple of immensity will blossom 
forth in its totality and in all its brilliance before the 
ecstatic gaze of the elect, and that, without leaving 
Christ for a single moment, they will have the power to 
transport themselves, in the twinkling of an eye, to the 
ends of the firmament. They will be free to explore the 
heavenly bodies, reappear on this earth, pass again over 
the places where they lived and prayed, places which were 
the scene of their labours and immolation. This view 
concurs with the texts of the Sacred Books, where they 
tell us that there are many mansions in our heavenly 
Father's house, [176] that the saints will shine like stars 
in perpetual eternities and that, wherever the body, that 
is, the sacred humanity of Christ, shall be, there also 
will the eagles be gathered. [177] 

Here, science is in accord with faith, and helps us 
to form an idea of the order, extent and magnificence of 
this temple, which will serve as an abode for renewed man. 

In our times, the fertile, enterprising genius of 
man, having explored the earth over its surface and in its 
innermost recesses, has launched out up to the heavenly 
bodies, and boldly sent his voice into the heavens: In 
coelo posuit os suum - They have set their mouth against 
Heaven. [178] Armed with the most powerful instruments 
which human art has ever been able to construct, contemp- 
orary astronomy has, over a wide area, rent the veil of 
the immense expanse which had seemed impenetrable to man's 
understanding and by patient study and analysis has marked 

[175] Simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus Christo in aera, et 
sic semper cum Domino erimus. (1 Thessalonians 4:16) 

[176] John 14:2. 

[177] Luke 17:37 

[178] Psalm 72:9. 


out the shores of the starry sky, and investigated all 
their depths and secrets. 

Now, it has been found at the present time that this 
earth which we inhabit is only a minute atom in comparison 
with the thousands of millions of worlds which fill the 
void of the firmament. I am not speaking solely of our 
planetary system. Everyone knows that the sun, which is 
its centre and which invigorates us by its heat at the 
same time as it gives us light with its rays, is separated 
from us by a distance of ninety-three million miles, and 
that its light, which covers one hundred and eighty-six 
thousand miles a second, takes more than twenty minutes to 
reach our eyelids. [179] 

It is not only our earth which gravitates around the 
sun, but a large number of other vaster and more volumin- 
ous bodies, which describe orbits around this same centre, 
wider than the one described in its path by the earth, in 
its annual journey. All these bodies, the map of which 
present-day science has drawn and the whole geography of 
which it has succeeded in elaborating with precision, are 
themselves mere grains of dust, insignificant specks, by 
comparison with this multitude of other worlds, scattered 
about in the immensity. [180] These innumerable stars 
which appear motionless and because of their incalculable 
distance from our earth seem to us like specks of light 
sown above our heads are themselves as many suns. These 
suns, in turn, illuminate and move planets and satellites, 

[179] At the passage of Venus across the sun, observed in 1769, 
different astronomers worked out the sun's parallax as 8.91; a 
parallax of 8.91 is the equivalent of a distance from earth to 
sun of 23,150 terrestrial semi-diameters or 88,800,000 miles; 
as light travels at 186,000 miles per second, the light of the 
sun takes 8 minutes 13 seconds to reach us. 

[180] Giving stars of the first magnitude the parallax of 0/1, 
we have a space of 32 years for the passage of their light. 
For stars of the ninth magnitude, light would reach us in 1,024 
years; as for those of the sixteenth magnitude, the furthest 
ones visible with Herschel ' s telescope, they would need 24,192 
years to send their light to us. Thus, all the stars could 
vanish and we would continue to see almost all of them for 
several generations. (Secchi: Pes Etoiles volume 2, p. 145) 


and they carry along with them worlds, probably brighter, 
and certainly more extensive, than our solar world. [181] 

If we wish to compute the number of these worlds 
which adorn the immensity of space - their totality forms 
what is called the world of constellations - we must 
remember that the naked eye can detect nearly six thousand 
eight hundred of. them. Moreover, as more perfect optical 
instruments come to be built, their number increases irx- 
stupendous proportions. Herschel has estimated that, with 
the aid of a telescope, more than twenty million could be 
discerned. On clear nights an observer who watches the _ 
firmament perceives a hazy band of whiteness which sur- 
rounds the whole sky. By resolving the light, it was - 
discovered that it is formed of an incalculable number of 
stars which, at the distance they lie from the earth, seem 
to merge and blend into a single, continuous, luminous 
path. And by analysing their light, it was possible to 
learn the structure of these globes,- the matter of which 
their atmospheric mass was composed. It was established 
that these fixed stars were incandescent, composed of the 
same elements as, and having temperatures as high as, those 

[181] It is evident that, at the stupendous distance which the 
stars are from us (a star with a parallax of a whole second is 
200,000 times more distant from us than the sun), we cannot 
distinguish the planets which surround them; but certain phenom- 
ena permit the certain induction that these stars have obscure 
satellites which execute their revolutions around them. Fr. 
Secchi ascertained that there were stars of variable size - for 
instance, Algo, also known as Beta-Persei. This star of the 
second magnitude is at its brightest for a period of 2 days 13 
hours; it then begins slowly to .diminish; after 3 hours 30 
minutes, it is reduced to its minimum brightness which is 
scarcely equal to that of a star of the fourth magnitude. The 
total period of variation lasts 2 days 2 hours 4 8 minutes and 
55 seconds. Careful observations have established that this 
phenomenon was dependent on a dark body which partially hid 
the star for a certain time producing a true partial eclipse. 
(Secchi, vol.1, p. 152) 

[Note by the publishers of the English edition. Most of 
this footnote is based on unproved assumptions of modern 
science that Fr. Arminjon has accepted without asking questions 
which should have been asked. It is, for instance, quite 
impossible to establish that one star is 200,000 times more 
distant from us than the sun, or that the stars are "surrounded 
by planets," or even that all the stars (as opposed to the 
planets) are not equidistant from the earth. This is shown in 
a paper, published by Britons Catholic Library, called Sir 
Isaac Newton and Modern Astronomy by N.M. Gwynne. ] 


of the sun which shines upon us. [182] As for the planets, 
it is known that, like the earth, they have water, air and 
vapours. . .and the nature of their climates has been success- 
fully and precisely elaborated. There is no doubt but 
that they are, like our sphere, dotted with continents and 
seas, that they have no plains and that their mountains 
are capped in winter with snow, which they lose in 
spring. [183] 

[182] Through spectral studies, and by resolving light with 
optical instruments, it has been possible to discover the 
chemical nature of the incandescent substances of which the 
stars are formed. The presence of hydrogen, sodium and iron in 
abundance has been established. The spectrum of the stars 
presents approximately the same metallic, luminous streaks as 
the sun, proof that the composition of the sun and the fixed 
stars is identical. The stars are, like the sun, incandescent, 
luminous bodies in themselves. In several stars, as in Sirius, 
broad, dilated streaks have been observed, which is a sign of a 
very high temperature, and of the existence of density in the 
hydrogenous atmosphere of these bodies. (Secchi: Pes Etoiles , 

[Note by the publishers of the English edition. Fr. 
Arminjon is quoting more unproved assumptions. For instance, 
the assertion that it is possible to learn the structure of 
stars and the matters of which their atmospheric mass is com- 
posed is without foundation. All that is possible is to make a 
guess of which the validity cannot be checked. The presence of 
hydrogen, sodium and iron in the stars is also purely a guess, 
and many other hypotheses could equally explain the same obser- 
vations. (See again the work cited in the English publishers' 
note in the previous footnote.)] 

[183] At the present time, when optical instruments of extra- 
ordinary power have been successfully built, and when the 
meteorological nature and the chemical structure of stars and 
planets have been established, the question of their inhabit- 
ants is stirring opinion, and science has not been able to 
avoid seeking the solution, as far as this is possible. On the 
subject of the inhabitants of the stellar worlds, an unbeliev- 
ing author, M. Flammarion, has written a book, devoid of any 
scientific value, which is simply a work of imagination and 
fantasy, a mere novel. The Roman review Civilta Cattolica has 
published a number of serious articles on this interesting 
subject, of which we shall give only a few extracts. In its 
study of the planet Jupiter, it shows, by irrefutable evidence, 
that this planet could not be inhabited or, at the very least, 
cannot be except by creatures wholly different in structure 
from us. For, on the one hand, the" gravity of Jupiter is only 
one fifth of the earth's; on the other hand, its volume is 
equal to that of 310 terrestrial globes; from which it follows 
that, compared with this planet, our earth stands in the pro- 
portion of a lentil grain to an orange. A traveller who ven- 
tured on Jupiter would weigh twice as much again as on earth: a 
man weighing ten stones would acquire a weight of forty-five 
stones, just about that of the chairman of the well-known stout 
men's society, founded some time ago in the United States. 
Like the earth and all the other planets, Jupiter performs a 
rotatory movement on its axis, and there is a motion of trans- 
lation around the sun. It turns on its axis in ten hours which 
is the length of its days. The planet has a night of five 
hours, and is lit by the sun for only five hours. By contrast, 
( footnote continued on following page ) 


How many other mysteries there are in the immensity 
of space, which our feeble minds will never succeed in 
penetrating 1 Thus it is that science, as it advances, 

( footnote continued from previous page ) -•"_ "- ~ _ -- - 
the years are much longer than ours. It takes Jupiter eleven 
years, ten months and seventeen days of our terrestrial days to 
complete its revolution around the sun. Thus, a person who 
lived for twenty years on that planet, would have lived twenty- 
five times longer than one who had lived on earth for the same 
period of time. Everyone knows that the earth's axis of rotat- 
ion has an inclination of about 23 degrees in its annual orbit. 
From this inclination, it follows that the two northern and 
southern hemispheres are each, successively, exposed to the 
direct action of the solar rays: hence the difference in temp- 
erature, and- in the order and variety of the seasons. In 
Jupiter, the axis of rotation has an inclination of only three 
degrees, an insignificant quantity; thus it happens that the 
seasons are uniform, the temperature is even, and the two poles 
of the planet are immersed in perpetual darkness. We may add 
that, seen from the distance of Jupiter, the sun would appear 
as a disc having only one fifth the area which it is perceived 
to have by the inhabitants of the earth. The light and heat 
which Jupiter receives are only one twenty-seventh of the 
amount received by the earth. The temperature of its equator 
is, therefore, probably that of our North Pole. Jupiter is, in 
addition, surrounded by a vast quantity of vapour, and its 
atmosphere is furrowed with black streaks so dense that it 
would be impossible for an observer transported to that planet 
to enjoy the sight of the starry sky, or even to manage to make 
out the four moons or satellites which surround Jupiter. It 
follows that the atmospheric conditions on Jupiter do not 
support a plant and animal life comparable to that which exists 
on our earth, and that, if there are people, their physio- 
logical constitution has no analogy or likeness with ours. 

If, after Jupiter, we study Saturn - a planet 3500 million 
miles from the earth, and separated by a space of 1,530 million 
miles from Jupiter - we reach this same conclusion, that Saturn 
cannot be inhabited by people with the same constitution as we 
have. The volume of Saturn is equal to 6 75 times that of the 
earth, and its density is only about twenty times greater. 
Saturn completes its revolution around the sun in 29 years, 166 
days and 97 minutes. Consequently, its winters and summers are 
seven continuous years long; its poles are submerged for four- 
teen years in profound darkness. Our tropical regions on earth 
have an average temperature of 77° Fahrenheit, on Saturn it 
would be 0.77° Fahrenheit. Thus our pole, with its forty 
degrees of frost, would be a Sicily, or even a Sahara, in 
comparison with the temperate climates of Saturn. Again, let 
us add that it seems to be established that Saturn, with its 
ring and its seven satellites, is formed of a gaseous substance. 
Thus the inhabitants of this pleasant planet receive only one 
hundredth part of the light and heat which the sun sends to the 
earth. It follows that in order to see with any degree of 
clarity at all they would need to have eyes constructed like 
those of the owl. They would have, in addition, the pleasure 
of living as if they were in the gaseous state, floating through 
space like tufts of wool or vapour bubbles. 

One planet would seem to approximate to the atmospheric 
conditions of our own: Mars. Of all the planets, Mars is the 
one which has been the most carefully studied because of its 
relative proximity to the earth, being at a distance of only 
( footnote continued on following page ) 


reveals to us ever more the divine greatness, and bids us 
exclaim, with the unbounded joy of the Prophet: "The 

( footnote continued from previous page ) 
36 million miles. It has been possible to draw a map of it, 
and trace the shape of its continents and seas. Mars performs 
its revolution in one year and 331 days: its volume is a seventh 
of the earth's, and nearly five times that of the moon. The 
days are of 2 4 hours and 77 minutes, nearly the same length as 
ours. The light of the sun provides sufficient illumination, 
and its temperature is little different from ours. The con- 
tinents appear in a red hue; the colouring is "caused either by 
the atmosphere or by the colour of its soil or plants. The 
seas are a greenish colour, and at the pole there are white 
spots which lengthen or shorten according to the season, which 
suggests that they are snow. Now, as the years on this planet 
are approximately twice as long as ours, its winters extend in 
the same proportion; and since, taking the distance from the 
earth to the sun as our unit, the distance of Mars from this 
same body is 1.5 2, it follows that Mars has only a quarter of 
the amount of light and heat which the earth receives. So it is 
a sheer fantasy to portray Mars as an oasis set in space, a 
spring-like abode with a dazzling, blue sky, such as that of 
Sicily or Madeira. 

Let us say a word about Venus, the most radiant and the 
one most lauded by the poets, called Lucifer, on account of its 
brilliance: the Phoenicians, Romans and Greeks placed it in the 
rank of divinities, calling it Juno, Isis, Venus. It is des- 
ignated by the name morning star. Sometimes it precedes sun- 
rise, often by four hours, and appears bathed in the half-light 
of dawn. Sometimes it precedes sunset, disappears amidst its 
fire and becomes invisible to us. At other times, it follows 
the sun when it sinks from the west, shines again and is called 
the evening star. In order to refute Fammarion, who boasts of 
the delights enjoyed by the inhabitants of Venus beneath its 
charming and ever-beaming sky, it will suffice to establish the 
facts. The diameter of Venus is inferior to the earth's by 
only a tenth. Its volume and density are almost the same: its 
days, too, are almost the same length - 23 hours, 27 minutes 
and 6 seconds. Yet Venus' s year is only 23 days and the 
seasons are only of 57 days, instead of 90 days as with ours. 

It might, perhaps, be inferred from all these consider- 
ations that the climate of Venus is as good as ours. But there 
is another side to the coin: the axis of the terrestrial orbit, 
as" we know, is inclined about 23° on that of the equator. If 
the axis of the equator were parallel to that of the ecliptic, 
the seasons and climates would be equal all over the earth. In 
Venus, instead of an inclination of 23°, the orbital axis has 
an inclination of 5 0°. If the earth's axis were inclined in 
this proportion, all the earth's climates would be upset. 
France and Germany would have a tropical temperature during the 
summer, and a cold more intense than that of the pole in winter, 
and, because each season on Venus lasts only 57 days, it would 
be impossible for plants such as ours to grow and ripen; nor 
would animals, such as those on our earth, be able to subsist 
in such a rapid transition from torrid heat to the extremes of 

We may add that studies of the phenomena of refraction 
have established that Venus has an atmosphere twice as dense as 
the earth's. This does not deter the novelists of the celest- 
ial worlds fronT concluding that the inhabitants of these plan- 
ets, having, like us, poetical talents and fine sensitivities 
to satisfy, are the happiest of mortals; that they live in 
ever-peaceful, enchanting regions. . .and since in those vapour 
baths they cannot be subject to any boredom or sorrow, perhaps 
it is not so incredible that they never feel any desire to see 
the sun shine above them during the day, or to see the stars 
twinkle during the night. 


heavens shew forth the glory of God: and the firmament 
declareth the work of his hands. Day to day uttereth 
speech: and night to night showeth knowledge. " [184] 
There lies man's domain, the magnificent temple destined, 
one day, to be his palace and habitation; once resurrected, 
glorious and incorruptible, he will embrace with a single 
glance the riches which fill these spaces, and he will 
cover these vast distances at one stretch, with greater 
swiftness than light itself travels over them. 

That science which is hostile to our beliefs has 
sought to turn these considerations to account in order to 
degrade man and combat his- hopes and his glorious 

How can we admit, it says, that those vast spheres, 
inundated with light, . where the elements possess all their 
energy and vitality, are black wildernesses, devoid of 
inhabitants? While our planet which, compared with other 
globes, is but an imperceptible speck, is supposed to 
serve as an abode for living creatures, capable of knowing 
and loving, those thousands of millions of worlds sus- 
pended above our heads are said to be composed of nothing 
but inert bodies, mechanically performing the law of their 
nature, or else of animals, slaves of their instincts and 
incapable of knowing the hand which feeds them? With the 
aid of a telescope, we can discern millions of minute 
animals, in a drop of water hanging from a needle; every 
grain of dust which we trample underfoot contains perhaps 
as many living, organized creatures as there are over the 
whole surface of the earth, and we are to believe that the 
Creator, so prodigal with animal life, was parsimonious 
with intelligent life? Could these countless worlds, 
intended to proclaim His glory, be merely lyres suspended 
in the void, without a spirit capable of hearing them, and 
without a heart to echo them and quiver in harmony with 
their songs? 

If, then, reason and every analogy with existing 
things bid us conclude that life and thought actuate all 
these spheres, what is man amidst all these countless 
beings, these races endowed like him with a soul and a 
body, to enumerate which defies all our calculations and 
suppositions? And how can it be granted that he is the 
centre of all things, that it was for him that everything 
was made and that the final destiny of this multitude of 
creatures, probably superior in nature to himself, should 
be subordinated to the trials and vicissitudes of the 
ephemeral pilgrimage, which he undergoes on this earth? 

To this difficulty I answer that, on this question, 
the Church has defined nothing. The sacred books were 
not written to give a sop to our curiosity. In the 
account which they give us of creation, they speak of only 
two kinds of intelligent natures: the angels and men. 
They were not in the least concerned to inform us what 
might be the mineralogical structure, and the qualities of 
the plants and animals, in the spheres other than those 
which we inhabit. In this matter, the Church has not 
condemned any system, and the field remains open to all 
hypotheses and all opinions. 

[184] Psalm 18: 1,2,3, 


There was a fairly general belief among the doctors 
of old that superior intellects were assigned to govern 
the celestial bodies. It is reasonable to think that 
beings capable of praising and blessing God fill all 
space, as they fill all time; thus there is no infidelity 
to Catholic tradition in linking the material existence of 
the stars to the existence of free, intelligent beings 
like ourselves.* 

The Church even gives us to understand that they were 
the scene of the first act in the providential drama of 
that great struggle among the higher spirits which St. 
John describes in his Apocalypse, a struggle of which our 
earthly strife is the continuation. [185] It was in the 
most luminous part of Heaven, above the most brilliant 
stars, says Isaias, that Lucifer tried to set up a throne 
for himself, from which he was cast down; it was to the 
summit of this heaven of heavens, says the Ps .lmist, that 
Jesus Christ ascended. [186] 

However, if these views are only theological opinions, 
what must be held as certain and as an article of faith is 
that all the stars and suns were reborn in the divine 
blood, and have shared in the grace of the Redemption. 
The Church affirms it in one of her solemn hymns: Terra, 
pontus, astra hoc lavantur flumine. 

The sceptre of Heaven and earth was placed from the 
beginning in the hands of the Son .of- God. This multitude 
of worlds, the number as well as the dimensions of which 
surpass all calculation, are only the tiniest part of the 
dowry bestowed upon His humanity by virtue of its in- 
dissoluble union with the divinity: "Above all principal- 
ity and power and virtue and dominion and every name that 

* Note by the publishers of the English edition. This and 
the preceding three paragraphs are somewhat obscure, but it 
seems that Fr. Arminjon is prepared to admit, at least as a 
permissible hypothesis, that there may be universes other than 
ours and rational creatures besides men and angels. It is true 
that the Church has not defined on these points, but Catholics 
are not, in fact, free to accept such hypotheses. That there 
is only one world or universe is taught by St. Thomas in Summa 
Theologica , I, Q.47, A. 3 "Whether there is only one world?" 

St. Thomas proves his case from Scripture and from the 
principle of the order of creation, according to which all 
creatures are ordered to one another and to God. By the same 
principle, the existence of rational creatures other than men 
and angels would be out of harmony with the order jf creation. 

Moreover, the existence of bodily rational creatures other 
than man would contradict the Genesis account in which God^s 
creation of all bodily _ things is assigned to the first six 
days, (cf. Genesis 1:31) and it is stated that creation 
thereupon ended . And since an incorporeal rational creature 
would by definition be an angel it follows that the existence 
of no rational creature other than men- and angels is compatible 
with reason and revelation. _..„_- ~ 

[185] Isaias 14:12,13; "Apocalypse 13:7. , 

[186] Ramiere: Horizon des serviteurs du Coeur de Jesus 
(Messager du Sacre-Coeur, April 1879, . p.. 384) 


is named, not only in this world, but also in that which 
is to come. And he hath subjected all things under his 
feet and hath made him head over all the Church. .." [187] 

If you ask me why, among the spheres incomparably 
more vast and brilliant, the Creator sought out the small- 
est of the inhabited stars, to make it the place of His 
annihilation, the scene of His labours -and of the myster- 
ies of His Incarnation and of our Redemption, I shall 
reply that the uncreated Word, desiring to show the depths 
and the excess of His love by abasing Himself to the very 
extreme, surged out from the bosom of His Father and from 
the eternal hills, as Scripture says, and, without stopp- 
ing, passed through all the orders of intellectual hier- 

Crossing the empyrean heaven, where the angelic 
natures live, He did not unite Himself to them, and it was 
not in their abode that He established His dwelling-place: 
Nusquam enim angelos apprehendit - For nowhere doth he 
take hold of the angels. [188] Descending next into the 
highest regions of the firmament, those lit by the great 
suns, He deemed them, also, too sumptuous and brilliant. 
As it is written in the Canticle of Canticles, "He cometh 
leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills" until 
He came to the meanest thing there was: Ecce venit saliens 
in montibus. [189] To plant His mortal footsteps, to hide 
Himself and to suffer, He chose, among all the stars of 
creation, one of the smallest and most obscure, confirming, 
in regard to the worlds, as to individuals, these words of 
the Prophet (Psalm 112, verse 7): "Raising up the needy 
from the earth: and lifting up the poor out of the dung- 

No doubt, from the preference Christ gave to our 
inferior and limited planet, and from the perpetual tran- 
substantiation of its material substance into the body of 
God, which is consummated in the Eucharist, our earth has 
not acquired that pre-eminence in the physical order which 
the ancients mistakenly ascribed to it. It is the centre 
of the supernatural world. It is the source, says the 
Apostle, from which spreads over all the other worlds the 
virtue which conserves and deifies them; it gathers within 
its unity all the perfections which compose the universe; 
it restores within its totality the diversity of created 
existences; through it the heavens bowed down, God approach- 
ed this base world, and, to use the beautiful expression 
of St. Ambrose, He clothed Himself in the universe as in a 
mantle, and became resplendent among all the creatures. 

That is all we can say about the future state of the 
worlds and the place of immortality. 

Of course we do not intend today to describe the 
supreme, essential happiness of the elect, which we call 
the beatific vision - that possession of God, so intimate 
and inherent in our being, that we shall be united to it 
just as iron unites with fire and, seeing it face to face, 
at the source of the rays of its eternal essence, we shall 
be transformed in the resemblance of its divine splendours: 
that vision, called eternal life because it confers upon 
man a direct and immediate sharing in the bliss of God, is 
not dependent on any space or place. God is infinite and 
everywhere present. The just soul is the sanctuary wherein 
it most pleases Him to dwell. The angels who assist and 

[187] Ephesians 1:21. 

[188J Hebrews 2:16. 

r 189 1 Canticle of Canticles 2-.: 


protect us on this earth, see the face of the Heavenly 
Father unceasingly, and the souls of the blessed separated 
from their bodies have their paradise wherever they are 
placed. Were they amidst the deepest darkness of the 
abyss, God, who possesses and completely satisfies them, 
would not fail to inundate them with His brightness, and 
the joys in which He immerses them would not suffer any 
diminution. If man were a pure spirit, he would not need 
any definite, material place beyond the present life. 
Earth and creation would then no longer have any purpose, 
and would be irrevocably destroyed; but mankind is destin- 
ed to be reborn, whence it follows that. the matter which 
served as its garment is also meant to be restored, in the 
same way as its rejuvenated, glorified host. 

Thus mankind as a complete body, and the whole of 
visible creation, will be tried by fire, and they will 
come out of it, dazzling and purified. Just as a metal is 
not cast into the furnace to be consumed and destroyed but 
to come out refined and in the state of pure gold, so the 
conflagration which the world will undergo will not anni- 
hilate it, but only purify and transform it into a clearer 
and purer image of the idea of God realized in it. 

"And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming 
down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned 
for her husband. 

"And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: 
Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell 
with them. And they will be his people; and God himself 
with them shall be their God. "[190] 

Oh, you must not think that, because the world will 
cease to turn round upon itself and ever to revolve around 
the same circle like a slave tied to the millstone that, 
in this new earth, there will be no freshness in the air, 
no verdure in the meadows, no flowers on the trees and no 
water gushing out of the springs. You imagine, perhaps, 
that this nature, which now runs, moves and seethes, full 
of zest and life, beneath the indirect and partial light 
of our dark sun, is to remain inert, fruitless and frozen 
beneath the direct gaze of God! Far from it: the new 
world is a living thing! The heavenly Jerusalem is the 
eternal Church, the daughter of God, the spotless spouse 
of the Lamb. The Lamb, the incarnate Word, occupies the 
centre of its heart. It is He who is its life, its focus, 
its streaming water and its ever burning, inextinguishable 
torch. As for the fortunate creatures who dwell in it, 
they will for ever pass rapidly from brightness to bright- 
ness, from progress to progress, from one ecstasy to 
another.- "God cannot grow, but the creature will always 
grow. Only, it will bind itself unalterably to its centre 
through an immense love, and this is what will be known as 
its repose and immobility . "[191] 

What practical and moral lessons are to be drawn from 
these teachings, for the guidance of our lives and the 
rule of our actions? 

The first is this: that it is the height of human:: 
folly to become attached to the perishable and corruptible 
goods of this life. 

[190] Apocalypse 21:2. 

[191] Gratry: De la Connaissance de 1 ' Ame , vol.1, ch.2, 6. 


What would you think of a great king, lord of a vast 
empire, who, spurning his sumptuous treasures and the 
glitter of his crown, kept his eyes and all his thoughts 
fixed on a handful of sand or a piece of slime, and set 
his heart and all his affections unwaveringly on this base 
matter? The story is told of a Roman emperer who, instead 
of commanding his armies and dispensing justice, spent his 
time killing flies. So it is with the majority of men 
called to possess a kingdom which encompasses the whole 
range of the firmaments: they excite themselves and engage 
in senseless fights to the death over objects more trifling 
than the flimsy web spun by the spider, than shrivelled 
grass or than the paltry, worthless life of the worm, 
crawling along at our feet. 

The second of these consequences is that suffering in 
this life is only a relative evil. There are on this 
earth cases of profound sorrow, of intolerable, raw bruises 
and heart-rending, indescribable separations. History 
affords us the spectacle of mothers who with their own 
eyes saw their children branded, degraded, and delivered to 
wretches worse than demons, who tortured their bodies, and 
strove, by countless contrivances, to kill their souls. It 
has portrayed the spiritual anguish, worse than torture 
and death, which they endured. A great poet has said: "He 
who lives in a hovel, and he who lives in a palace - all 
in this life suffer and mourn; queens have been seen 
weeping like ordinary women, and the quantity of tears in 
the eyes of kings has brought astonishment. " [192] 

Yet all this heart-break and suffering are but a 
laboratory and a crucible, into which divine goodness has 
cast our nature, in order that, like coal , black and base, 
it may emerge in the form of a precious, sparkling diamond. 

Jesus Christ has said: "A woman, when she is in 
labour, hath sorrow, because Her hour is come, but, when 
she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more 
the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. 
So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you 
again and your heart shall rejoice. And your joy no man 
shall take from you." [193] 

Thus it is with every part of creation. It is in 
pain, it, sows the harvest to come amidst tribulation and 
tears, but, sooner or later, there will rise over it the 
sun of that other world, the dawn of which we can glimpse 
by. faith, and all that now lies buried and overwhelmed 
beneath the weight of sin and death, all that sighs in 
pain amidst malediction and corruption, will be filled 
with light and joy, and will rise up again in the glory of 
a boundless, endless bliss. 

The third consequence of our doctrine is that we must 
not allow ourselves to be perturbed by the noise of our 
social strife and the convulsions of our revolutions. All 
this is but a prelude. It is the chaos which precedes 
harmony; it is motion seeking rest, twilight on the move 
towards day. The city of God is being built, invisibly 
but surely, amidst these shocks and heart-breaking con- 
vulsions. Public disasters and great scourges are none 
other than the sword of the Lord and the harbinger of His 
justice, separating the chaff from the good seed. Our 

[192] Chateaubrand: Genie du Christianisme . 
[193] John 16:21,22. 


wars, moral combats and civil commotions hasten the day of 
deliverance, when the city of God will be perfect and 
complete; and, when the turmoil of the ages has passed, 
there will come a great calm and a great pacification. 
Then there will follow progress and growth, the eternal 
dwelling-place of free, intelligent creatures, the unity 
which will make all people a single soul in the life and 
eternal light of God. 

St. Augustine, after his baptism, having considered 
in what place he might serve God most usefully, determined 
to return to Africa with his mother, his brother and a 
youth named Evodius. 

When they reached Ostia, they stopped there to rest 
after the long journey they had undertaken from Milan, and 
were preparing to embark. 

One evening, Augustine and his mother, leaning upon a 
window which looked on to the garden of the house, were 
conversing most graciously, forgetting the whole past and 
directing their gaze upon the heavenly future. 

That evening the night was calm, the sky clear, the 
air still, and in the light of the moon and the gentle 
twinkling of the stars the sea could be seen, extending 
the silvery azure of its waves to the distant horizon. 

Augustine and Monica were seeking to discover what 
eternal life would be like. In a single movement of the 
mind they scaled the stars, the sky and every region where 
bodies lived. Next, they swept past above the angels and 
spiritual creatures, felt themselves transported to the 
very throne of eternal Wisdom, and had, as it were, a 
vision of Him through whom all things exist and who is 
Himself always, without any distinction of time. 

How long did their ecstasy last? To them it seemed 
as fleeting as a flash, and they felt unable to estimate 
its duration. 

Having recovered consciousness, and being obliged 
once more to hear the noise of human voices, Monica ex- 
claimed: For my part, I find no more pleasure in this 
life, and I do not know what I am doing or why I still 
remain here." That scene has remained famous and popular. 
Great masters have immortalized it in the masterpieces of 
their art. The paintings and images which they have drawn 
of it have been reproduced a thousand times, and have 
left, vivid and imperishable, this sublime episode in the 
life of Monica and Augustine. 

On the following day, Monica caught an illness which 
led to her death, and_ nine days after the ecstasy which 
had entranced and raised her above the senses, she went to 
contemplate face to face that sovereign beauty, whose 
radiance and image she had glimpsed on earth. [194] 

In that abode of blissful life which Saint Monica 
glimpsed, Christ will- be truly king; not only as God, but, 
inasmuch as He is visible and clothed with our human 
nature, He will reign in the house of Jacob for ever. [195] 

U94] Confessions of St. Augustine, bk.IX, X. 

[195] Et regnabit in domo Jacob in aeternum et regni ejus non 
erit finis. (Luke 1:32,33) 


His accession to His kingdom will not be definitive, 
and the glory with which He is invested at the right hand 
of His Father will not be perfect and consummated, until 
He has finished laying His enemies at His feet. [196] 

Then, all things will be subjected to Him, and He 
Himself will be subjected to the One who has bound every 
creature to Himself. Hitherto, Christ fought in union 
with His Church, and was busy conquering His kingdom, 
whether by eliminating the wicked from it, or by calling 
to Himself the just through the ineffable attraction of 
His mercy. His kingdom in Heaven will be built on a 
completely new foundation, and on a model very different 
from the one on which it is established here below. [197] 
In that new life Jesus Christ will no longer be represent- 
ed by a teaching Church, and the elect will not need to be 
enlightened and aided by the good angels, nor to have 
recourse to the sacraments for their sanctif ication. 
Their state will be a pure, perpetual contemplation of the 
divinity, in which Christ, the head of humanity, will bear 
within Himself, to the bosom of His Father, the totality 
of its members, in order to subject them to Him, to Whom 
He is Himself subject. Et tunc Filius erit subjectus 
Patri, ut sit Deus omnia in omnibus - Then the Son shall 
be subject unto the Father, that God may be all in all. 
(Corinthians 15:28) 

There will be no domination but that of one God, 
extending to all men, and there will be but one glory, the 
glory of God, become the possession of all. Just as the 
present life is subjected to various constraints and 
requires for its support certain kinds and conditions of 
air, clothing and food, so, as St. Gregory Nazianzen says, 
in the kingdom of Christ the divine vision will compensate 
for these different needs. The elect will find therein 
all that they are capable of loving and desiring; it will 
be their clothing, their food and drink, and will satisfy 
all the demands of their renewed life. [198] 

[196] Dixit Dominus Domino meo : Sede a dextris meis, donee ponam 
inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum. (Psalm 109:1) 

[197] Tunc enim cessabunt omnia ministeria, novae illuminationes 
in beatis, accidentalia gaudia de conversione peccatorum et 
similia, sed erit quasi pura quaedam contemplatio divina eodem 
modo stabilis ac perpetua, qua totus Christus, id est, caput 
cum omnibus membris feretur in Deum eique subjiciatur. Et huic 
expositioni quadrat ratio subjuncta a Paulo: Et tunc Filius 
erit subjectus Patri, ut sit Deus omnia in omnibus: id est, ut 
unus Deus in omnibus dominetur et glorif icetur , et omnes in Deo 
habeant quidquid sancte et juste amare possunt ac desiderare. 
(Suarez : Question, LIX, Article 7) 

[198] Cum vita quam in praesenti transigimus, varie a nobis 
exigatur, multae res sunt quarum participes sumus , ut aeris, 
loci, cibi ac potus, et aliarum rerum ad usum vitae necessar- 
iarum, quarum nulla est Deus. Beatitudo vero quam exspectamus, 
nullius quidem harum rerum egena est, omnia autem nobis, loco- 
que omnium erit Divina natura, ad omnem usum ac necessitatem 
illius vitae sese convenieter et apte impartiens (St. Gregory 
of Nyssa: Liber de Anima et Resurrectione ) 


Happy he who can forget the cares of the present for 
a moment, and turn his hopes towards this blessed abode, 
raising himself up in thought to these high spheres of 
contemplation and love. 

But, my God, how far these ideas are from the 
thoughts of most men, and where is he who will even lend a 
cursory attention to the few things we have endeavoured to 
stammer out? The greater number, blinded by their passions, 
consumed by greed and pride, are far removed from any 
concern for their souls and their future. Children of men, 
how long will your hearts be burdened, how long will you 
seek your sustenance in lies and shadows? When will you 
cease imagining death as a curse, and regarding it as the 
abyss of darkness and destruction? Let us try to-day to 
understand that it is not the obstacle, but the means; it 
is the paschal transition which leads from the kingdom of 
shadows to that of reality, from the life of movement to 
the life of immutability and indefectibility. It is the 
good sister, whose hand will one day cast off the clouds 
and idle phantoms, to lead us into the holy of holies of 
certitude and incomparable beauty. 

Ah, perhaps in this discourse we have been permitted 
to have an inkling and a glimpse of what will take place 
in the land of glory. So far as forming an exact idea of 
it is concerned, we can no more do so than the person who, 
having lived since his mother's womb in an underground 
cave, could picture to himself the light of a beautiful 

In drawing an image of the kingdom of Christ, we have 
been able to speak only in riddles and metaphors; but 
these riddles and metaphors represent great and true 
things, an eloquent, irrefutable commentary on these words 
of the Apostle: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither 
hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God 
hath prepared for them that love him. [199] 

Here, speech fails. Beyond what we have said, reason 
is powerless to conceive anything. Man can only believe, 
hope, love and hold his peace. "And he said to me: These 
words are most faithful and true - Et dixit mihi: haec 
verba fidelissima sunt et vera. "[200] 

We have obeyed you, Lord God, we have spoken these 
things, we have written them and we have preached them. 
May those who have heard them, and we with them, by a 
holy, sinless life obtain one day their perfect fulfil- 

[199] Quod oculus non vidit, nee auris audivit, nee in- cor 

hominis ascendit, quae praeparavit Deus iis qui diliqunt JLllum. 
(I Corinthians 2:9) - 

[200] Apocalypse 22:6. 



On Purgatory 

Misereraini mei, miseremini mei, saltern 
vos amici mei, quia manus Domini tetigit 

Have pity on me, have pity on me, at 
least you my friends, because the hand of 
the Lord hath touched me. (Job 19:21) 

How beautiful religion is, how admirable and con- 
soling in its teachings and in the glorious obscurity of 
its mysteries! While letting us die on earth through the 
deprivation of our bodies, it does not make us die in our 
hearts by the rupture of friendships, which are their joy 
and support. 

Does not the merciful Saviour Who, out of a feeling 
of exquisite delicacy, deigned to be called the God of 
Abraham, Who promised His Apostles to bring them to rest 
one day in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, seem to 
give us to understand, by this religious remembrance given 
to ancestors, that death does not have the privilege of 
breaking the lawful ties of life, and that holy affections 
are not extinguished by the cold hand of death? 

Our task to-day is a difficult one: we must make you 
love and fear Purgatory. Purgatory deserves to be feared. 
It is, in all truth, the workshop of infinite justice. 
Divine stringency and rigour are there exercised with an 
intensity which, to us on earth, is unknown. Weighty 
Doctors of the Church assure us that all the cruelties 
practised on the martyrs by their executioners, and all 
the sufferings and afflictions heaped upon men since the 
beginning of time, cannot be compared to the lightest 
penalty in that place of atonement. On the other hand, 
purgatory is the masterpiece of the Heart of God, the most 
marvellous artifice of His love, so much so that we could 
not tell you whether the consolations enjoyed there are 
not more abundant than the torments themselves. 

The state of the holy souls whose laments we wish to 
let you hear is incomprehensible and ineffable. Their 
bliss is not that of Heaven, where joys are unmixed; their 
torments are not those of Hell, where suffering is un- 
remitting. Their pains bear no comparison with those of 
the present life, where happy days alternate with days of 
desolation and sorrow. 

These souls are happy and unhappy at the same time. 
The most extreme tribulations, the greatest anguish which 
the soul can feel, are indissolubly united to the most 
authentic and most exhilarating joys imaginable, excepting 
those of Heaven. 


Oh, do not accuse the Lord of cruelty towards these 
souls, whom He will one day immerse in the ocean of His 
radiance, and make them drink the torrent of His pleasure: 
De torrente voluptatis potabis eos - Thou shalt make them 
drink of the torrent of thy pleasure. [201] Rather wonder 
how love and justice are united by a mutual disposition in 
this great work of amendment and purification. 

In the light of those terrible flames, we shall 
realize the profound degree of evil contained in the 
faults which we consider slight and unimportant. Moreover 
the consolations, which God's infinite clemency condes- 
cends to extend to these dark places of fire, will help us 
to calm the fears which will grip us at our last hour; at 
the moment of our death, they will set our souls at peace 
and inspire us with courage, confidence and true resig- 

So, in a few words, Purgatory is pleasing and con- 
soling, a blessed abode, worthy of our greatest solicitude 
and predilection, inasmuch as the torments there endured 
are visited upon holy souls, beloved of God. Purgatory is 
a scene of affliction and anguish, inasmuch as God's 
justice gains compensation for the portion of sacrifice 
and love which we have refused Him here below. 

Holy angels, guardians of those fiery chasms, help me 
to call to mind those souls, so holy and resigned, from 
the bowels of the flames that torment them. Make us 
recognize among them our fathers, our mothers, our sisters 
and brothers. Let their so tender and heart-rending cries 
penetrate our ears, for they would be capable of splitting 
the mountains and mollifying cruelty itself. 

Oh, if our hearts have not been turned to stone, if 
one drop of Christian blood still runs in our veins, we 
shall understand that there is no greater distress to be 
relieved, no devotion more meritorious or more compelling 
to be practised! 

The existence of purgatory is explicitly attested by 
Holy Scripture and by the constant tradition of the Jewish 
and Christian Church. It is said in the books of Mach- 
abees that it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for 
the dead, so that they may be freed from the faults and 
imperfections by which they sullied themselves in life: 
ut a peccatis solvantur - that they may be loosed from 
sins. [202] St. Paul, speaking of easy-going and presump- 
tuous preachers who, in the exercise of their ministry, 
are led astray by love of praise and yield to thoughts of 
vanity and feelings of self-satisfaction, says that they 
will be saved, but after having first been tried by fire: 
sic quasi per ignem - yet so as by fire. [203] St. Gregory 
teaches that souls guilty of trespasses for which they have 

[201] Psalm 35:9. 

[20 2r-2 Machabees 12:46, 

[203] Corinthians 3:15. 


not sufficiently atoned during their life, will be bap- 
tized in fire: ab igne baptizabuntur. It will be their 
second baptism. The first is necessary in order to intro-~ 
duce us into the Church on earth, the second to introduce 
us into the Church in Heaven. According to St. Cyril and 
St. Thomas, the fire of Purgatory is of the same kind as 
that of Hell. - It has the same intensity, and differs only 
in that . it is temporary. Lastly, the sacred liturgy 
teaches us that Purgatory is a frightful abyss, a place in 
which the souls are in anguish and cruel expectation, a 
brazier where they burn unceasingly, subjected to the 
effect of subtle fire, lit by the breath, of divine justice, 
the strength of which is the- measure of His most just and 
most dreadful vengeance: Dies irae, dies ilia... Lacry- 
mosa dies ilia, qua resurget ex favilla judicandus homo 
reus. [204] 

In the Canon of the Mass, the Church offers her 
petitions . to God in order to obtain for these souls locum 
lucis, a place of light: whence it follows that they are 
in the night, and enveloped in dense, impenetrable dark- 
ness. She seeks for them locum refrigerii, a place of 
refreshment: whence it follows that they are in intoler- 
able, burning pain. Again, she asks for them locum pacis, 
a place of peace: whence it follows that they are consumed 
by fears and inexpressible anxieties. 

[204] According to St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas and St. Augus- 
tine, the torments of Purgatory surpass in severity all the 
pains which man can endure in this life. 

"Et si aeternus non sit, miro tamen modo gravis est; ex- 
ceditque omnes poenas quas aliquis in hac vita passus est." 
(St. Augustine, lib. 50, homily, c. XVIII) - "Unde in Psalm 37: 
Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me, ait damnatos argui in furore 
Dei, justos vero in purgatorio corrigi in ira Dei." 

St. Anselm, 1 Corinthians 3: "Sciendum est quod gravior 
est ille ignis quam quidquid homo pati potest in hac vita." 

Caesarius, Homily 8: "Nemo hoc dicat, fratres charissimi, 
quia ille ipse purgatorius ignis durior erit, quam quod possit 
poenarum in hoc saeculo aut accidere, aut sentiri, aut cogi- 

However, St. Bonaventure (in 4.D.20, a.l, 4.2) interprets 
the different opinions which we have just quoted in a milder 
sense. The pains of Purgatory, he says, are of a supernatural 
order; consequently it is certain that, taken in themselves, 
they surpass by their intrinsic nature all the sufferings of 
the present life. This notwithstanding, it cannot be granted 
that, in the concrete case and in respect of each individual, 
the lightest of the pains of Purgatory exceeds all the torments 
that a man might endure on this earth. Thus, for example, if a 
soul is guilty of only a very small venial sin, there would be 
no proportion between the sin and the penalty if the soul were 
condemned, for that sole fault, to endure all the sufferings of 
the martyrs. The opinion of St. Bonaventure concurs with the 
statements of a large number of saints, who have learned by 
revelation that men have been condemned to Purgatory for only a 
very short time, and that they were spared the pain of fire. 
All the more reason for concluding that, among the souls in 
Purgatory, there are a certain number condemned only to compar- 
atively light penalties. 


This simple description makes our whole being shake 
with horror. Let us hasten to say that the consolations 
which these captive souls experience are also inexpress- 

It is true that their eyes are not yet refreshed by 
the sight of the gentle light, and the angels do not 
descend from Heaven to transform their flames into a 
refreshing dew; but they have the sweetest treasure, one 
which is enough by itself to raise up the man most des- 
pondent beneath the weight of his afflictions, and bring 
the dawn of calmness to the most doleful and dejected 
countenances: they possess the good which, on earth, 
remains to the most wretched and deprived of men, when he 
has drained the ever-filling cup of all afflictions and 
pains: they have hope. They possess hope in the highest 
order, in that degree which excludes all uncertainty and 
apprehension, which sets the heart at rest, in the deepest 
and most absolute security: Reposita est mihi corona just- 
itiae - There is laid up for me a crown of justice. [205] 

These souls are assured of their salvation. St. 
Thomas gives us two reasons for this unshakable certainty 
which is so consoling that it makes them, in a certain 
sense, forget their pains. In the first place, these 
souls know that it is of faith that the reprobate can 
neither love God, nor hate their sins, nor fulfil any good 
work: now they have an inner awareness that they love God, 
that they hate their faults and can no longer do evil. 
Moreover, they know with the certainty of faith that souls 
who die in a state of mortal sin are cast into Hell with- 
out delay, the very moment they utter their final sigh. 
Ducunt in bonis dies suos, et in puncto ad inferna des- 
cendunt - They spend their days in wealth. And in a 
moment they go down to hell. [206] 

Now, the souls of whom I speak are not given up to 
despair, do not see the faces of the demons, do not hear 
their curses and blasphemies: from this fact, they in- 
fallibly conclude that they did not die in a state of 
mortal sin, but are in a state of grace and pleasing to 

Also, what a source of happiness it is for them to be 
able to exclaim with St. Paul's confidence: "No more 
relapses into sin! no more separation between -God and 
myself: Certus sum enim! For I am certain! no more terri- 
fying doubts about my predestination. Ah! it is over, I 
am saved... I have heard from the very mouth of my God the 
irrevocable declaration of my salvation; I know so as 
never again to doubt it that one day the gates of the 
heavenly city will open for my triumphal entry and that 
Heaven, earth, the principalities and powers together are 
powerless to separate me from the charity of God and 
dispossess me of my eternal crown: 'for I am sure that 
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 
nor powers, nor things present, nor -things to come, nor 
night, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the -love of God which is 
in Christ Jesus our Lord. '"[207] - 

[205] 2 Timothy 4:8. 
[206] Job 21:13. 
[207] Romans 8:38. 


Oh, no doubt this soul will exclaim: how sharp my 
pains arel Nothing can be compared with the violence of 
my punishment; but this punishment and these sufferings 
are powerless to take me away from God, to destroy the 
fire of His love within me: "Who shall_ then separate us 
from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? 
or famine?... "[208] Oh! My weakness is -now no longer 
liable to reveal itself in outbursts of temper, xn impat- 
ience and murmuring. Resigned to God's will and pleasure, 
I bless the hand that chastises me, I accept joyfully all 
my torments. 

These torments cannot crush my soul, nor make .it 
uneasy, bitter or anxious... Non contristabit justum 
quidquid ei acciderit. I know that they are ordained and 
moderated by that divine Providence which, for the good of 
creatures, arranges all things with love and equxty. [209] 
I will say more: I should prefer my torments to the de- 
lights of Heaven, if it could be granted to me to enjoy 
them against the desire of that sovereign will to whxch I 
am henceforth absolutely and irrevocably subject. My 
wishes and aspirations are summed up in a single motto: 
"All that God wishes, as He wishes it and at the time He 
wishes it." Oh! God of my heart, my treasure and my all, 
what am I that Thou deignest to come down to me and, with 
Thy paternal hand, purify an ungrateful and unfaithful 
soul ! 

Oh, cut deep into the flesh, drain the unimaginable 
cup of Thy torments! Listen only to Thy honour and the 
interest of Thy justice, and, until this is fully satis- 
fied, pay no heed either to my groans or my complaints. 

Poor souls! They have but one passion, one burning 
desire, one wish - to break the obstacle which prevents 
them from springing forward towards God, Who calls them 
and draws them to Him with all the energy and all the 
violence of His beauty, mercy and boundless: love. 

Oh, if they could, they would willingly stir up the 
flames which consume them, and vie with one another in 
accumulating torment upon torment, purgatory upon pur- 
gatory, in order to hasten the happy day of their deli- 
verance. In these souls there are residual traces of sin, 
an alloy of afflictions, blemishes and defects which does 
not permit them to unite with the divine substance. Their 
imperfections, the venial faults with which they allowed 
themselves to be tarnished, have darkened and maimed their 
inner eye. If, before their complete purification, the 
bright, dazzling light of Heaven met their sick, enfeebled 
eyes, they would feel an impression a thousand times more 
painful and burning than those which they feel amidst the 
deepest darkness of the abyss. God Himself would like to 
transform them immediately into the likeness of His glory 
by illuminating them with the pure rays of His divinity; 

[208] Romans 8 :35. 

[209] Censeo esse de fide, illas animas non ita perturbari 
doloribus, ut irrationalem quamquam anxietatem, vel impat- 
ientiam sustineat. Probatur ex proverb io XII: non contristabit 
justum quidquid ei acciderit. Quod si hoc dixit sapiens de 
justo in hac vita degente quando divina gratia et protectione 
custoditur, quid dicendum est de animabus illis, quae confxrm- 
atae sunt in gratia, et in omni bono, et certxssime norunt 
illas poenas esse justissimas, et ex Dei ordinatione oven ire? 
(Suarez: Disputationes , XLVII, section III, p. 932) 


but these rays, being too bright and dazzling, could not 
penetrate them. They would be intercepted by the dross 
and the remains of that earthly dust and mire with which 
they are still sullied. It is essential that, having been 
cast into a consuming crucible, they should lay aside the 
rest of human imperfections, so that, from being like 
base, black carbon, they may emerge in the form of a 
precious, transparent crystal. Their nature must be made 
subtle, purged of every admixture of shadow and darkness, 
and become capable of receiving, without opposition, the 
irradiations and splendours of divine glory which, flowing 
in superabundance within them, one day,, will fill them, 
like a river without banks or bottom. 

Imagine a person afflicted with a hideous ailment 
which gnaws his flesh and makes him an object of ostracism 
and disgust for those around him. The doctor, seeking to 
cure him, applies forceps and fire unsparingly. With his 
terrible instrument, he probes to the very marrow of the 
bones. He will attack the source and root of the disease 
in its innermost depths. So violent are the convulsions 
of the patient that he nearly expires; but, when the 
operation is over, he feels reborn, the disease has dis- 
appeared, and he has recovered his beauty, youth and 
vigour. Ah! Far from flying into a rage with complaints 
and reproaches, he has no words or blessing great enough 
to express his gratitude to the skilled man who, by making 
him suffer a thousand woes, gave him the most precious of 
things: health and life. 

So it is with the souls in Purgatory. They quiver 
with joy as they see their stains and filth vanish through 
the marvellous effect of that reparatory punishment. 
Under the action of those purifying flames, their more or 
less disfigured being is refreshed and restored. The fire 
itself, St. Thomas says, loses its intensity in proportion 
as it consumes and destroys the faults and imperfections 
which feed its strength. A barrier of imperceptible size 
still separates these souls from the place of recompense. 
Oh! They feel indescribable transports of joy, as they see 
the wings growing which will enable them soon to rush 
forward towards the abodes of heaven. Already they glim- 
pse the dawn of deliverance. Oh! they are not yet within 
reach of the promised land; but, like Moses, they draw up 
a mental picture of it. They have a presentiment of its 
lights and pleasant shores, and breathe in its fragrance 
and its sweet-smelling breezes in advance. Each day, each 
moment, they see the dawn of their deliverance rising in a 
less distant horizon, they feel the place of their eternal 
repose come nearer and nearer: Requies de labore . What 
else shall I say? These souls have charity which, this 
time, has taken complete and absolute possession of their 
hearts; they love God, they love Him so intensely that 
they are willing to be dissolved- and annihilated for His 

St. John Chrysostom says: "The man who burns with the fire 
of divine love is as indifferent to glory and ignominy as 
if he were alone and unobserved on this earth. He is-nO 
more _ troubled by pincers, gridirons or racks than if these 
torments were endured by flesh other than his own. What is 
full of sweetness to the world has no attraction, no 
relish, for him; he is no more liable to be captivated by 
some evil attachment than is gold, .seven times tested, 
liable to be tarnished by rust. Such are, even on this 
earth, the effects of divine love when it grips a soul." 


Now, divine love acts upon the souls of whom I am 
speaking with all the greater force, in that, being sep- 
arated from their bodies, deprived of all human consol- 
ations, and abandoned to a thousand martyrdoms, they are 
compelled to have recourse to God and to seek in Him alone 
all that they lack. 

One of the greatest of their sufferings is the know- 
ledge that the pains which they endure bring no benefit to 
them. Night has come for them, when they can no longer 
labour or acquire anything: "The night cometh, when no man 
can work. "[210] The time when man is able to make satis- 
faction himself for his sins, accumulate merit and in- 
crease his heavenly crown ceases with death. The moment 
he enters the other life, every human being receives the 
pronouncement of his eternal sentence. 

His fate is immutably fixed and he no longer has the 
option of accomplishing good or bad works, for which he 
can once more be answerable at God's tribunal. Yet, if 
the souls in purgatory cannot grow in holiness and amass 
new merits by their patience and resignation, they never- 
theless know that they can no longer lose merit, and, for 
them, it is a sweet joy to suffer out of a free, altog- 
ether disinterested, love. 

Without doubt this peculiar mixture of happiness 
amidst the cruellest torments is a state which our gross 
minds cannot comprehend; but ask the martyrs: the Teresas, 
the Lucians, the celestial lovers of the Cross. They will 
tell you that, most often, it is in sorrow and amidst 
afflictions and the most cruel spiritual desolations that 
he who seeks to live in God alone experiences a kind of 
foretaste of paradise, and feels the sweetest and most 
exhilarating joys and delights pour into his heart. 

The souls in Purgatory love God; furthermore, they 
are loved by the Churches of Heaven and earth, who main- 
tain continuous contact and relations with them. The 
Catholic Church appeals to the charity of her children, 
and, through their mediation, lavishes her petitions and 
aid upon them day and night. Every moment the charity of 
the good angels bestows upon them the heavenly dew which 
the good Jesus sends down from His heart. They love one 
another, and console each other in ineffable intercourse. 

No unfathomable gulf separates these souls and their 
friends on earth, and we are free at every moment to bring 
them that drop of water which the rich fool sought in vain 
from the pity of Lazarus. 

St. John once had a wonderful vision: he saw a temple, 
and, in the sanctuary of this temple, perceived an altar, 
and beneath this altar, the multitude of suffering souls: 
vidi subtus altare animas interfectorum. [211] These souls 
are not ^in front of the altar, as one commentator remarks; 
they are not permitted to be there. They participate in 
the fruit of the Eucharistic Sacrifice only indirectly, by 

[210] John 9:4. 

[211] Apocalypse 6:9. 


means of intercession. They are below the altar, and 
await, resigned, although in torment, the portion which we 
are willing to convey to their lips. [212] 

The Catholic Church has made no definition on the 
location of Purgatory. Different opinions have been ex- 
pressed on this point by the Doctors and Fathers, and we 
are free to choose any of them without offending against 
orthodoxy or departing from the true faith. 

St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure and St. Augustine teach 
that Purgatory, situated in the centre of the earth, is an 
intermediate abode between the Hell of the damned and 
Limbo, where the children who died unbaptized are detain- 
ed, at least until the judgement. 

They quote, in support of their opinion, the words 
sung by the Church's command: "Lord, deliver the souls of 
the faithful departed from the pains of hell and the deep 
pit. "[213] 

Likewise, these words from the Apocalypse: "And no 
man was able, neither in Heaven, nor on earth, nor under 
the earth, to open the book, nor to look on it. "[214] 
From these words of St. John, it is certain that only just 
men were invited to open the mysterious book. Now, by 
this reference to those who are below the earth , does not 
the Apostle seem to give us to understand that there are 
some just people who are detained for a time in these dark 
depths? Elsewhere, in Ecclesiasticus, it is said: "I 
shall enter into the lower parts of the earth, and shall 
visit those who sleep, and the hope of salvation shall 
appear in their sight." Scholars have shown that the 
inspired author intended in this passage to indicate 
Limbo, where the Patriarchs and saints of the Old Test- 
ament rested in the bosom of Abraham. This explanation 
confirms, rather than invalidates, the view of St. Thomas 
and St. Bonaventure. 

In fact, if the Patriarchs and the just of the Old 
Testament, once purified of all their actual sins, had the 
lower regions of the earth as their abode until the day 
when the sin transmitted to our race by Adam had been 
completely erased on the Cross, [215] it seems all the more 
fitting that souls guilty of actual sins for which they 

[212] St. Jerome and several Doctors are of the opinion that, 
when the Holy Sacrifice is offered for a dead person, he ceases 
to suffer the pains of Purgatory for the whole duration of the 

[213] Libera, Domine, animas fidelium defunctorum de poenis 
inferni et de profundo lacu. 

[214] Nemo inventus est dignus aperire librum, neque in coelo, 
neque in terra, neque subtus terram. - (Apocalypse 5) 

[215] According to tradition, Limbo, where the just of the Old 
Testament were detained after their death, was situated at the 
centre of -the earth. The just of the Old Testament were not 
stained by original sin: they had the means of erasing it; :yet/ 
they were unable to enter Heaven because, in consequence of 
the sin of Adam, this abode had been closed to all the des- 
cendants of the first man, and could not be opened again, 
except by the merits of Jesus Christ. 


have not sufficiently atoned should be punished and de- 
tained in the depths of the earth: Inferiores partes 

The testimony of St. Augustine adds a further degree 
of probability to this opinion: in his Epistle XCIX , ad 
Evodium, he states that, when Christ descended into Hell, 
He went not only to Limbo but, also, to Purgatory, where 
He delivered some of the captive souls, as seems to be in- 
dicated in the Acts of the Apostles: Solutis doloribus 

The second opinion concerning the location of Purgat- 
ory is shared by St. Victor and by St. Gregory the Great 
in his dialogues. Both maintain that Purgatory is not a 
fixed place, and that a large number of deceased souls 
atone for their faults on earth, and in the same places 
where they sinned the most frequently. [216] 

Sacred theology reconciles these different testi- 
monies by establishing, first, that Purgatory is a fixed 
place, with given bounds, situated at the centre of the 
earth, where the majority of souls go in order to atone 
for the faults by which they were sullied. 

Nevertheless, Purgatory is not restricted to this one 
single place. Whether by reason of the gravity of their 
sins or through a special dispensation of divine wisdom, 
there are a considerable number of other souls who do not 
languish in that prison, but undergo their punishment on 
earth, and in that place where they had sinned. This 
interpretation, which comes from great theologians, 
explains and confirms a multitude of apparitions and 
revelations made to the saints, several of them having 

[216] Unumquem purgari ubi potissima peccata commisit, sicut 
multis documentis saepe probatum est. (Hugo of Saint Victor: 
lib. II, De sacram . , p. 16, cap. IV) 


marks of truth which make it impossible to dismiss 
them. [217] 

In order fully to elucidate our doctrine, we shall select, 
among all the revelations quoted by St. Gregory in his 
dialogues, those of which the authenticity is beyond all 
question. [218] 

In the annals of Citeaux, it is related that - a pil- 
grim from the district of Rodez, returning from Jerusalem, 
was obliged by a storm to put in at an island close to 
Sicily. There he visited a holy hermit, who enquired 
about matters pertaining to religion in -his country of 
France, and also asked whether he knew the monastery ot 
Cluny and Abbot Odilon. The pilgrim replied that he 

[217] Can the dead and the souls in Purgatory appear - and do 
they, in fact, sometimes appear - to the living? St. Augustine 
declares that such apparitions may take place, and have taken 
place on a number of occasions, by a special disposition of the 
divine will. He quotes, as proof, the souls of Moses and 
Samuel (1 Kings 28); the souls of Jeremias and the high priest 
Onias (2 Machabees 15), who reappeared on earth although still 
captives in Limbo. As for apparitions of blessed souls who 
dwell in Heaven, these are frequent in the lives of the saints. 
Theodoret, in Book 5 of his Ecclesiastical History , and Nice- 
phorus, in Book 12, quote many examples. It is likely that, by 
virtue of the same divine disposition, the souls in Purgatory 
sometimes appear or reveal themselves for the salvation and 
guidance of the living. This is the teaching of St. Gregory 
the Great, who quotes various characteristics of these appar- 
itions; but the probable doctrine is that the souls detained m 
the centre of the earth only rarely obtain permission to leave. 
As indicated by the event related by St. Bernard in his life o± 
St. Malachy, the souls who reveal themselves to the living are 
generally those who have been sentenced to spend their Pur- 
gatory in the places where they lived on earth. Whatever may 
be the truth in these diverse opinions, it is certain that, in 
the very rare cases where the souls in Purgatory are permitted 
to reappear and show themselves to the. living, their sufferings 
are not suspended; such an interruption would not be in their 
interest, as it would delay their entry into bliss. Just as 
the fire of Hell torments the demons living in the regions ot 
the air, so, too, the souls in Purgatory endure their punish- 
ment in whatever place they are transferred. 

[218] St. Gregory the Great says that Bishop Paschasius, a very 
austere and holy man, appeared to Herman, Bishop of Capua, at 
thermal baths near this town, and told him that he had been 
sentenced to undergo his suffering in "this place, in punishment 
for his friendliness towards the archpriest Lawrence, who had 
rebelled against Pope Symmachus, declaring himself antipope. 

St. Peter Damian had a similar vision which he relates in 
Epistle II, ad Desiderium . He quotes the case of a bishop 
spending "his "Purgatory in a river: this bishop appeared to a 

. certain priest and grasped his hand, in order to make him feel 
the sharpness of his pain. 


did, and added that he would be grateful if he would tell 
him what purpose he had in asking him that question. The 
hermit answered: very near this place, there is a crater, 
the summit of which we can see; at certain tames r it 
belches up clouds of smoke and flame. I have seen demons 
carrying off the souls of sinners and hurling them into- 
that frightful abyss, in order to torment them for a 
while. Now, on certain days, I hear the evil spirits 
conversing among themselves, and complaining that some of 
these souls have escaped from them; they blame pious 
persons who, by their prayers and sacrifices, hasten the 
deliverance of these souls. Odilon and his monks are the 
ones who seem to terrify them most- That is why, when you 
return to your country, I ask you in the name of God to 
exhort the Abbot and monks of Cluny to redouble their 
prayers and alms for the relief of these poor souls. The 
pilgrim, on his return, did as he was bidden. The holy 
Abbot Odilon pondered and weighed everything carefully. 
He sought enlightenment from God, and ordained that, in 
all the monasteries of his order, the second day of Nov- 
ember each year should be established in commemoration of 
all the faithful departed. Such was the origin of the 
Feast of All Souls. [219] • 

St. Bernard, in his life of St. Malachy, quotes 
another case. 

This saint relates that one day he saw his sister, 
who had been dead for some time. She was doing her Pur- 
gatory in the cemetery. On account of her vanity and the 
attention she had devoted to her hair and body, she had 
been sentenced to live in the very grave where she had 
been buried, and to witness the dissolution of her body. 
The saint offered the Sacrifice of the Mass for her for 
thirty days; at the end of this period he saw his sister 
again. This time she had been sentenced to complete her 

[2191 There is one objection to the authenticity of this story. 
It does not appear theologically admissible that the holy souls 
in Purgatory should be delivered up to demons to be tormented. 
First, it is in no way necessary that the evil spirits detain 
or convey these souls to the place of their expiation; once 
they know God's will, they obey and submit to it willingly. it 
is a pious belief that the souls who die in the friendship of 
God are led to Purgatory by their good angels, and that these 
assist them and appear to them for their consolation. The 
opinion that the souls in Purgatory have to suffer the presence 
and obsession of evil spirits is incompatible with the state of 
justice and holiness in which they are arrayed, and with the 
love which God' has for them; if the demons had the power to 
practise their cruelties on these souls, it could not be by 
virtue of a command from God, but merely by His permission. 
All that need be said about the vision of this pilgrim from 
Rodez is that it is an image, a parable, suited to our dull 
minds, which God desired to use in order to depict the horror 
and darkness of the prison where the souls are cast. If, 
nevertheless, there are indeed souls, not among the reprobate, 
who are given over to the devil for a time, these can only be 
certain great sinners, guilty of enormous crimes, who had been 
reconciled to God only at the moment of their last breath. The 
common opinion of theologians is that, as a general rule, the 
holy souls in Purgatory are not tormented by demons. 


Purgatory at the gate of the church, doubtless because of 
her irreverent demeanour in the holy place; perhaps she 
had distracted the faithful from the Sacred Mysteries in 
order to draw eyes and appreciation to herself. She was 
exceedingly sad, wearing a mourning veil, and was in 
extreme anguish. The saint offered the Sacrifice once 
more for thirty days, and she appeared to him for the last 
time in the sanctuary, with unruffled countenance, radiant 
in a white robe. The bishop knew by this sign that his 
sister had gained her deliverance. 

This story records the universal custom, which pre- 
vailed from the very first ages of the 'Church, of praying 
for the dead over a period of thirty days. On this point, 
Christianity had merely followed the Mosaic tradition. 

The patriarch Jacob, on his death-bed, said to his 
sons: "Bury me in the double cave... over against Mambre, 
in the land of Chanaan; " and the grandsons of Isaac 
mourned their father for thirty days. On the death of the 
high priest Aaron and his brother Moses, the people again 
observed this thirty days' mourning; and the pious custom 
of praying for the dead for a whole month soon became a 
law of the chosen people. St. Clement stated that St. 
Peter, Prince of the Apostles, liked to have prayers said 
for the relief of the dead, and St. Dionysius describes, 
in magnificent terms, the stateliness with which the 
faithful celebrated the funeral rites. From the very 
first centuries, the Church encouraged prayers for a month 
after the deaths of the faithful, in memory of the thirty 
days' mourning/observed under the Mosaic law. 

you that sorrow after creatures whom you wrongly 
think absent, you that shed tears because you can set eyes 
upon those cherished faces no more - understand that the 
doors of their prison are wide open to your prayers and 

The prophet used to gain solace from the deaths of 
his friends who had died in the peace of God by diligently 
visiting them and, with incomparable confidence, repeating 
the words: "I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the 
earth, and will behold all that sleep, and will enlighten 
all that hope in the Lord. "[220] 

Ah, we almost fear that our words may chill your 
devotion towards these souls; that, as you hear of their 
many positive consolations, your compassion may diminish, 
and you may not have for them all the pity that they 
deserve. Let us then recall that their happiness and 
consolations are mingled with sorrows and torments. 

[220] Ecclesiasticus 24:45. 



We said, my dear brethren, that those souls, con- 
firmed in grace, are marvellously consoled by the cert- 
ainty of their salvation. On the other hand, as they are 
freed from the body which, ~ like a thick veil, darkened 
their-view and understanding of invisible, supernatural 
things, they suffer cruelly from the delay in possessing 
God . 

In this world, the absence and remoteness of God 
brings only - a mild regret to the majority of men. Cap- 
tivated by the lure of the goods of this world, absorbed 
in the display of tangible objects, we comprehend God too 
imperfectly to realize how much the loss of Him means; 
but, when we die, the veil of the senses will be rent; all 
our human attachments will perish r and the inanities which 
bemused us will have gone for ever. There will be no more 
amusements, pastimes and conversation. Then, our inclin- 
ations, aspirations and all our propensities will centre 
upon this divine Spouse, our sole and incomprehensible 

These poor souls, eager to be embraced eternally, 
rush towards God, Who is their end, with more energy than 
a magnet attracts iron, and with a greater impetuosity 
than natural things rush towards their centre. 

At this great ruin, which is death, in the complete 
separation from all those objects on which our life turns, 
the soul has nothing left other than this love which flees 
from him, leaving only the unimaginable regret that, 
through his own fault, he has delayed - by a day,_ a year 
or a century - that consummated union which, for him, must 
be the real and perfect, the sole and everlasting, happi- 

Imagine how bitter and heart-rending it is for a 
mother to bear the separation of a son who has left for 
distant lands, or has died a premature death, and whom she 
cannot hope to see again. From the moment when this 
mother's eyes cease to rest on that beloved child, a part 
of her life has gone: there is no joy or pleasure in the 
world capable of filling the deep, unfathomable void which 
the departure or loss of that son has created in her 

How much more bitter and heart-rending are the cries 
of the hapless soul! Can you hear him calling out from 
the desolate place of his atonement: Where is He Who is 
the soul of my soul? It is useless for me to seek Him on 
this bed of flames where I feel only gloom and emptiness! 
Oh, beloved of my heart, why keep me in this long sus- 
pense? Increase my torments - if necessary, put centuries 
of punishments into the minutes! How severely You punish 
me for my ignominy and indifference when You withdraw 
Yourself from my ardent soul which longs to see You, to 
lose itself in You and to dissolve in You! 

To this punishment of separation from God is added 
the punishment of fire. 

Let us state, however, in order to be precise, and to 
express no debatable and disputed opinion, that the Church 


has not defined that the souls in Purgatory undergo the 
effects of a material fire. It is merely a truth of 
divine faith and theologically certain. [221] 

At the first session of the Council of Florence, the 
Fathers of the Greek Church were unwavering in their 
formal refusal to accept the materiality of the fire of 
Purgatory; on the other hand, they unanimously acknow- 
ledged that Purgatory is a dark place where souls, free 
from the punishment of fire, endure very severe sufferings 
and penalties, consisting chiefly in the darkness and 
anguish of a cruel imprisonment. The Fathers of the Latin 
Church, who were unanimous in maintaining the opposite 
opinion, did not, however, consider that the Greek Church, 
on this point, strayed from the Faith. That is why, in 
the decree uniting the two churches, there was no mention 
of a punishment of fire. It was stated simply that those 
souls which have not entirely satisfied God's justice in 
this life endure, in the life to come, penalties proport- 
ionate to the number and gravity of their sins, and that 
the sufferings they endure are attenuated or shortened by 
the prayers and good works of the living, and particularly 
by the Sacrifice of the Mass. 

[221] A truth of ecclesiastical faith is one which has been 
defined by the councils and popes, and which no one can deny 
without incurring the mark of heresy and becoming anathema, 
that is, being cut off from the household and communion of the 

A truth of divine faith is one which is contained in the 
deposit of revelation, but has not yet been defined by the 
councils, or the popes. Thus, before its definition, the 
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was a truth of 
divine faith. One can reject truths of divine faith without 
being censured and declared a heretic, but not without in- 
curring the mark of rashness and rendering oneself guilty of a 
very serious sin, unless one can plead the benefit of good 
faith, or is excused by invincible ignorance. 

A theologically certain truth is a truth which f ol lows 
from Holy Scripture, has been accepted by tradition and the 
teaching of the majority of the Doctors and Fathers and, con- 
sequently, is founded on irrefutable evidence. 

To give an example and application of this threefold 
distinction, we shall" quote the infallibility of the Roman 
Pontiff, denied by the Gallicans before the Vatican Council: it 
is a truth of divine faith and, since the Council, a truth of 
ecclesiastical faith. As for the existence of a material fire 
in Purgatory, it is, in our opinion, not only a theologically 
certain truth, but a truth of divine faith. 

[Note by the publishers of the English edition. The 
distinction which Fr. Arminjon makes between those divinely 
revealed truths which have been defined as such by the Church 
and those which have not is theologically correct, but there 
seems to be some terminological confusion in his explanation, 
particularly with regard to the term "ecclesiastical faith". A 
truth of ecclesiastical faith is taken by Catholic theologians 
to be a truth which lias been defined by the Church as true , but 
not proposed- to be believed with divine faith (Hermann, 
Institutiones ~ Theologiae , Introduction, art. VI) ; in other 
words, a^ truth which is not divinely revealed at all, but is 
taught by the Church because it is certainly true and closely 
connected with revealed truth. In correct Catholic terminology, 
a divinely revealed truth which has been proposed as such by 
the Church is called "de fide definita" (defined as of faith) 
while one which the Church has not yet proposed is called "de 
fide definibili" (able to be defined as of faith).] 


If, in defining the punishments of Purgatory, the 
Council of Florence did not consider it opportune to 
mention the existence of fire, whether out of deference to 
the Fathers of the Greek Church, and in order not to hold 
back a long-sought reconciliation, or, in addition, be- 
cause their error did not endanger the essence and sub- 
stance of the dogma, the existence of a material fire in 
Purgatory must not be held as anything less than a proven 
truth, which cannot be subject to any doubt or attenuat- 
ion. In the first place, at this very Council of Florence 
the materiality of the fire of Purgatory was maintained by 
the unanimous vote of all the Fathers of the Latin Church. 
So this opinion has in its favour a longer line of trad- 
ition, as well as the belief of almost all the doctors. 
St. Paul appears formally to teach it in these words: 
Salvi erunt sic quasi per ignem - Yet they themselves 
shall be saved, yet so as by fire; (1 Corinthians 3:15) 
and it should be noted that he does not use the particle 
"quasi" as a diminutive, but in order the better to ex- 
plain the manner of purification. Finally, all the vis- 
ions and revelations dealing with Purgatory liken the 
pains and the fire which are there endured to the pains 
and the fire of Hell, with the sole reservation that this 
fire is not eternal but temporary. 

A question arises here which is not easy to answer: 
how can a material fire act upon souls separated from 
their bodies and upon pure spirits? We reply '.hat this 
is a mystery of God's justice, a secret which human reason 
will never succeed in comprehending. All that theology 
teaches us about Purgatory is that this material fire is 
not identical with the human soul, nor united to it in 
substance, as, in this world, the spirit is to the body. 
When the saints and eminent doctors tell us that the 
reprobate and the souls in Purgatory are arrayed in a body 
of fire, they are speaking metaphorically, adopting our 
way of thinking. What is quite certain is that, as a 
number of doctors have maintained, the fire will not 
confine itself to forming a sort of prison or enclosure 
around the souls whom it torments and purifies; it will 
not merely make them suffer from the vexations which it 
inflicts upon their will, and from the obstacles it will 
place in the way of the use and full development of their 
intellectual powers and their sensory faculties. 

The true opinion is that the fire of Purgatory, 
although corporeal, will act as an instrument of God's 
justice and, in some indescribable way, pierce the soul to 
the quick. This is the view expressed in the following 
words of St. Augustine: Cur enim non dicamus, quamvis 
miris, tamen veris modis, etiam spiritus incorporeos posse 
poena corporali ignis affligi. [222] So it will act dir- 
ectly upon the soul. The same thought is expressed more 
clearly by St. Gregory, when he says: "It is a visible, 
corporeal fire, which will cause an invisible fire and 
pain in the soul. "[223] 

Who can ever understand how penetrating this fire is 
which, unlike that of the earth, does not attack man 
through the medium of his material covering, but acts on 

[222] Why should we not say that incorporeal substances can be 
really, though by means which our reason cannot comprehend or 
our words explain, chastened by the corporeal pain of fire? 
(St. Augustine: City of God , ch.6). 

[223] Ex igni visibili ardor atque dolor invisibilis trahitur. 


the quick of the substance: this active and marvellously 
efficacious fire, which penetrates the most secret reces- 
ses of the soul, as far as the channels uniting it with 
the spirit: Usque ad divisionem animae et spiritus - Reach- 
ing into the division of the soul and the spirit. [224] A 
fire which does not let any stain subsist; an immortal 
fire, which discerns even those defects which the eye of 
the creature cannot perceive; a fixed fire, as the prophet 
calls it, which crushes the guilty soul, consumes and 
encompasses it, without granting it a single moment's 
rest; a fire the intensity of which is not moderated by 
any relief, or subject to any alteration, and which puts 
the children of Levi to the test, like gold and silver in 
the furnace: Sedebit conflans et purgabit filios Levi et 
colabit eos quasi aurum et argentum - And he shall sit 
refining and cleansing... and he shall purify the sons of 
Levi and shall refine them as gold and as silver. [225] 

In our world, pain is intermittent. A fever is not 
of the same violence all the time. Sleep suspends the 
sick person's groans. He can turn from one side to the 
other on his bed of suffering, and find solace in the 
conversation of his friends; but the fire of Purgatory 
consumes unceasingly and unremittingly. Every moment these 
souls feel and bear the whole weight and vigour of a pain 
which they are unable to put out of their minds for a 
single minute, a single second. 

A certain person who underwent a terrible operation 
had refused to be anaesthetized. She suffered without 
uttering a sigh, gazing upon the picture of Jesus Christ. 
The operation took five minutes. When it was over, she 
said: "It seemed to me to have lasted a century." Just as 
it is recognized that a feeling of intense joy makes the 
mind oblivious to the passage of time, so one can imagine 
a pain so severe as to make one minute seem like eternity. 
If this is so - if, in Purgatory, minutes are the equiv- 
alent of years, and years the equivalent of centuries - 
what will it be like to remain in the depths of that dark 
prison for nights, for years on end, perhaps until the end 
of the world? [226] 

[224] Hebrews 4:12. 
[225] Malachias 3:3. 

[226] The Church has made no definition concerning the duration 
of Purgatory. The theologian Dominico Soto expressed the opin- 
ion that no soul is detained in Purgatory longer than ten 
years. He sought to prove his contention on the grounds that, 
as Providence is free to substitute intensity in place of 
length of penalty, as will happen in the case of those who die 
a few hours or days before the last judgement, it is rational, 
and consistent with our ideas of the infinite goodness of God, 
to think that He will use this means of mitigation in order to 
hasten the entrance into Heaven of the souls which are so dear 
to Him. We may remark that this opinion is peculiar to the 
theologian Dominico Soto, and lacks any firm and weighty- 
basis. Moreover, certain saints "have had reason to believeT 
through revelation, that a large number-of- souls were condemned 
to Purgatory until the end of the world, and that, despite the 
assistance of the prayers and petitions of the Church, they 
have languished in that -prison for some centuries. This may be 
true in very exceptional cases, as with great sinners who 
returned to God only on the point of death; but there is no 
evidence or testimony to show that this view should be extended * 
to the greater number of the faithful departed. It is true 
( Footnote continued on following page ) 


you, whose lives are so lax, who do not fear to 
stain yourselves with a thousand faults in order to please 
the world or spare your body a moment's trouble, tell 
us - have you understood the mysteries of God's justice, 
and have you meditated upon the length of the torments 
that await you? Indica mihi si habes intelligentiam. [227] 

primitive Church, cradle of Christianity, model of 
all ages, who numbered as many saints as faithful and, 
taught by the Apostles, received the oracles of the 
incarnate Word at first hand: how frightful was your idea 
of the greatness of the penalties due to sin! You made 
amends in this life which astound us. 

In the Church of the early ages canon law was ap- 
plied in its full rigour. There was no remission or 
concession. Penance and works of satisfaction were im- 
posed strictly according to what was required in order to 
satisfy completely the justice of God. That penance did 
not consist in reciting a few short prayers; it consisted 
of long fasts on bread and water, daily recitation of the 
psalms, long and painful pilgrimages, and a considerable 
number of pious works. A thief, depending on the amount 
stolen, was sentenced to two or five years' penance, a 
blasphemer to seven years, an adulterer to ten and often 
twelve years of fasting, tears and public prostrations on 
the threshold of the sacred place. On this frightful 
calculation, an entire life spent in the macerations of 
the anchorites, even if it were as long as that of the 
ancient Patriarchs, would scarcely be enough to atone for 
the most ordinary, habitual sins of the men of our time. 
How long and terrible the Purgatory of most sinners will 

Without doubt, one thought capable of lightening the 
sorrow of those suffering souls would be that their memory 
is not lost, that the friends whom they have left on this 
earth are working to aid and deliver them. Alas, that is 

( Footnote continued from previous page ) 
that the Church permits the endowment of masses in perpetuity, 
but she has no intention thereby of declaring that the souls 
for whose benefit these masses are said may be detained in 
Purgatory until the end of time. She permits the custom, 
first, because the judgements of God are hidden from her, 
secondly, so as to give the faithful the opportunity of re- 
deeming their sins, and of satisfying God's justice, by the 
practice of charity and the endowment of charitable works.. 
Lastly, the Church knows that, if her petitions do not benefit 
directly the soul for which they are offered, they are applied 
to the relief and deliverance of other, unknown and more aban- 
doned, souls. The truth is that we cannot hazard any guesses 
as to the average length of time which souls spend in Pur- 
gatory. Revelations on this matter apply only to special, in- 
dividual cases, and we cannot draw therefrom any general, 
authoritative induction. 

[227] Job 38:1. 

i . 

- 112 - • ■ ■::«-■'■ 

a consolation which their hearts cherish in va"in. 

True, it is our custom to show the sorrow which we 
render to their memory; and undoubtedly religion is far 
from condemning this honour rendered to grief. Rather, 
indeed, does it condemn the hardness of heart' of those who 
have no sooner lost their parents and friends than they 
cease to remember them. The saints used to mourn their 
friends, but their greatest concern was to help them. It 
was not tears which St. Monica asked of St. Augustine, 
when, on her death-bed she said to him: "Son, I bid you 
remember me,, each time that you offer the Sacrifice at the 
altar." It was not by tears that St. Ambrose sought to 
mark the deep attachment he felt for the Emperor Theo- 
dosius, when he said: "I have loved this iprince, and, 
because I have loved him, I shall not leave him until I 
have led him into that abode to which his ^virtues call 
him. people, hasten hither and, together with me, 
bestow upon the remains of this prince, the incense of 
your prayers, the outpourings of your cha-rity and the 
grief of your penance." ,v 

What am I saying - tears? Those tears that promised 
ever to flow soon dry up. Our fickle, selfish hearts grow 
tired of calling out names which utter no soiind in answer, 
of seeking to recall images which have for ]ever vanished 
from our sight. Caught up in the whirlwind! of the world 
and its inanities, we shrink from such a grim and painful 
memory. Severance is followed by oblivion, "and the pains 
of the dead are the most forgotten of all pains. 

Poor deceased! After a few days spent;: in grief and 
mourning, a few courtesies paid to form and convention, 
you will be buried once more in a tomb, crueller and 
colder than the one in which you were first laid; and that 
second tomb will be oblivion - harsh, inhuman, unrelenting 
oblivion, like that winding-sheet, the final clothing of 
the dust of your limbs; oblivion, which will envelop your 
silent dwelling-places, which no one will visit any more; 
oblivion over your name, which no one will utter again; 
oblivion in your home, in the hearts of your friends and 
children, where no subject of conversation will evoke your 
memory. Yes, a deep, complete and irremediable oblivion, 
and this despite the most heart-rending farewells which 
were addressed to you, despite the vows to%our immortal 
memory and the declarations so full of tenderness. [228] 

One day Our Lord Jesus Christ met a most unhappy man, 
at the side of the pool. This man's face was as pale as 
death, his eyes were sunken and lustreless, and his limbs 
withered and stiff; he lay paralyzed and motionless on the 
bank of the pool of Probatica, trampled upon by passers-by, 
exposed to all weathers and all the inclemencies of the 
air. Nevertheless he was by no means afflicted with an 
incurable disease. For him to be cured there was no need 
to consult skilled doctors, or to search the- valleys and 
mountains for medicines, or strange and rare herbs. It 
was enough to give him a little push and put him down into 
the pool at the time when_ the angel of the Lord descended 
to stir its waters. Yet, in a town as populous as was the 

[228] Fr. Felix: Discours sur les morts. 


capital of Judaea, amidst the mass of pilgrims who came 
from every part of the world for the feasts, there was not 
one relative, not one friend, to render him such an easy 
service. Jesus, seeing this paralytic one day, was moved 
to pity, and, with emotion in His voice, said to him: 
"Wilt thou be made whole?" The infirm man .replied: Sir, 
I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into 
the pond." [229] What a striking picture this unhappy 
paralytic gives us of the soul whose complaints I have 
described! They sit by the side of the pool of that blood 
which has saved the world. They have no power to gather 
up its fruits, or to administer the vivifying drops to 
themselves; and it may be for years that they have implored 
us in vain, and have been tortured, for lack of a helping 

in this world the afflicted person has always some 
expedient^ The most unfortunate have at least their 
tears; and, when everything, both divine and human, fails 
us at the same time, when we have to contend with in- 
justice and oppression and suffer abuses and excesses of 
power, we still have a place of refuge in our own hearts, 
where God always awaits us. Each of our sorrows can 
become a sacrifice for us, each can be turned into a crown 
and treasure. To suffer interminably, however, knowing 
that nothing will come of it; to shed hot tears, and to 
feel that their burning dew will bring no growth, and that 
suffering will follow suffering, until divine justice is 
satisfied: that is a situation capable of softening hearts 
of steel; a misfortune which can be mourned only with 
tears of blood, and to which no one, in whose soul any 
feeling of humanity and compassion lingers, can remain 

Ah, if, beneath _ that thick soil which covers their 
bodies, if, from the shelter of their dark impenetrable 
dwelling-places, these souls could awaken for a moment, 
and bring their harrowing cries and groans to our very 
ears and hearts - what depth of feeling would there be. in 
their wailing, and with what tones of indescribable an- 
guish would they appeal for our aid I Ah, they would say, 
have pity on us, you who were our friends. Break our 
fetters, save us, deliver, us. Arise, go over the places 
where we have lived; and the deeper the silence over our 
tombs, the louder let your voices be raised. Priest of 
Jesus Christ, minister to all misfortunes, let this for- 
getful child hear the voice of his mother. I had reared 
him, I lived for him alone; he was the child of my heart. 
When I lay in my last agony, he would have wished to 
prolong my days at the cost of his own. Ask him how 
religion is powerless now to remind him of me. Priest of 
Jesus Christ, raise your voice louder still! Do not fear 
to bring shame and remorse into the soul of that uncon- 
cerned husband who seeks solace for his widowhood in 
licentiousness. Ask him where his sworn faith is, what 
has become of that tenderness and fidelity of which he 
gave me such warm and striking demonstrations, right up to 
the moment of my death. Ask him how it is that to-day I 
have to beg his solicitude and support with such heart- 
rending cries. 

Ah, he is still unmoved, and provides me with bitter 
proof that I am forever dead in his heart. 

[229] John 5:7. 


Tell our friends - and strangers as well who are not 
related to us by blood but who are our brothers in faith 
passing unconcernedly over that troubled sea of human life 
where they are swept along by the rapid waves just as we 
were not long ago - tell them to stop and consider whether 
there exists any pain more bitter and intense and, at the 
same time, more neglected and solitary than ours. Ah, we 
beseech you - brother, father, husband, friend - from the 
depths of this pool of fire, we implore you... a drop of 
water, a prayer, an act of fasting or alms-giving, a 
helping hand and we shall be saved. Brother, friend, 
father, husband: reflect that, if we are suffering, it is 
partly because of you. 

Yes, that soul suffers because of us. That mother 
suffers because she was too soft with her son, because she 
did not correct his faults, or chastise the misdeeds of 
his youth. This wife suffers because she gave her heart 
too much to her husband - a heart which belonged to God 
alone - and showed an indulgence for him that was exces- 
sive and unthinking. This friend suffers because he was 
an accomplice in the disorderly life of his friend, and 
because he took up his causes and made them his own, 
sharing in his dissoluteness and profligacy: and we leave 
them to bear the weight of God's justice alone! In return 
for the misguided indulgence they had for us we are un- 
willing to relieve them of one day's expiation, to spare 
them centuries of torture 1 

Ah, if you knew that at this moment your father, your 
mother or your brothers - the people you love most of 
all - were about to perish in a fire or beneath a land — 
slide, or that they were about to be engulfed by the sea 
or by flames; and if the only way to save them were to 
endanger your own life, run to their aid and hold out your 
hand to them, you would not hesitate, even if it meant 
risking your life, going through flames and allowing your 
hand to be burnt. If fear, or selfishness, or any other 
craven feeling, made you hesitate you would be ashamed of 
yourself and you would rightly consider yourself as the 
most heartless and thankless of men. 

There is a story that, at the time of the Crusades 
and the wars waged by our forebears in the East, a Christ- 
ian knight was taken prisoner by the barbarians. Cast 
into a hideous dungeon and unable to obtain the required 
ransom he faced only slavery and death. Suddenly a noble 
thought struck his daughter, tender as she was, and in the 
prime of her youth. Alone and without a guide, she traver- 
sed vast areas, and succeeded in crossing over immense 
deserts. Arriving at the coast, she offered to work for 
the price of her fare. At length, she reached the shores 
of Europe. Taking no rest, she at once travelled through 
the towns, and appealed to the compassion of all, going 
from house to house in order to collect the sum demanded 
by the barbarians. As soon as she secured it, she pre- 
pared once more to face those perilous journeys and that 
laborious voyage, from which she had escaped only by a 
miracle. Finally, she rejoined her father and, thanks to 
her superhuman efforts, and^ with the aid of the ransom 
obtained at the cost of so many perils and such severe 
hardship, managed to save her sire and snatch him from the 
fetters of captivity. 


What courage in a young girl ! What energy and 
strength of filial affection! Like that heroic girl, we, 
too, have received from God a tender, compassionate and 
loving soul. When an unfortunate person, in extreme want, 
stretches his hand out to us, we do not ask ourselves- 
whether he is united to us by friendship and blood; bur 
duty, our fortune and, especially, our heart, instantly go 
out to him. If necessary, we would not hesitate to de- 
prive ourselves of food and the most essential things in_ 
order to rescue an unfortunate man from degradation, 
captivity or death. Well, for the sake of our parents, 
those who have loved us, who are bound to us by the 
closest bonds, we claim neither the sacrifice of your 
health, nor your freedom, nor the whole of your goods, but 
merely the drop of water which the rich man vainly asked 
of the compassion of Lazarus. 

What else shall I add? How many are there among you 
who, after a dissipated, disorderly life, have lost even 
the courage to make amends, and the will to repent? Who 
shudder at the thought of the day when their soul, strip- 
ped of their body and stained with a mass of iniquity, 
will be exposed alive before the gaze of the Sovereign 
Judge? There is an easy way to obtain mercy at the last 
moment, and it is the one which Jesus Christ Himself 
teaches us: Facite vobis amicos ut recipiant vos in 
aeterna tabernacula - Make unto you friends. . .that when 
you shall fail they may receive you into everlasting 
dwellings. [230] Obtain for yourselves, with that gold 
which has served as the instrument of so many evil 
passions, the support and protection of the holy souls in 
purgatory . 

There is another thing which the dead say to us: you 
are mistaken about our desires, and the kind of relief 
which our pains demand; you thought you were showing us 
your sorrow and love by arranging a magnificent funeral. 
On the spot of our last abode you have erected monuments, 
which are not so much tributes to our memory as a grati- 
fication of your pride. What is the purpose of all this 
ostentation and splendour? If need be, pull down those 
mausoleums, smash those monuments and stones, and purchase 
with their rubble the prayers and suffrages of the Church. 

That is what the dead ask of us; and, if we listen to 
them, truly, I tell you, our charity will be blest. The 
dead will not be thankless. One day, freed from their 
torments by our solicitude, they will help us by their 
powerful intercession, and, when we fly up towards the 
heavenly fatherland, they will accompany us in procession; 
they will sing around us the hymn of thanksgiving, and 
increase the joy of everlasting bliss which will be our 
reward and our glory. 

[230] Luke 16:9 



Eternal punishment and destiny 
of the reprobate 

Ibunt hi in supplicium aeternum. 
And these shall go into everlasting 
punishment. (Matthew 25:46) 

There is one terrible truth in Christianity which in 
our times, even more than in previous centuries, arouses 
irrepressible horror in the heart of man. That truth is 
the eternity of the pains of Hell. No sooner is this 
dogma stated than minds become agitated, hearts shake and 
pound, passions harden and rage against this doctrine and 
the unwelcome voices which proclaim it. Ought we, then, 
to be silent, leaving shrouded in oblivion an essential 
truth about man's most important concern: his final des- 
tiny beyond the short years of his exile on earth? Yet, 
if Hell is a reality, whatever silence we might maintain 
over this fundamental question would not shake its cer- 
tainty. All the attenuations and palliatives of human 
language cannot shorten its duration. It would be the 
height of folly to convince ourselves that if we turn our 
minds away from this fatal possibility and try hard not to 
believe in it we shall manage some day to avoid its rigour. 

In this series of conferences, wherein we propose to 
deal with the things relating to the future of man and his 
immortal destiny, we could not leave out the punishments 
of the life to come without failing in our duty and acting 
like a false, negligent doctor who, for the sake of spar- 
ing his patient the suffering of an operation, calmly left 
him to die. On this subject, Christ Himself did not think 
it fit to speak with circumspection and reserve. He 
continually emphasizes the punishments reserved for sin- 
ners, and, on many occasions, speaks about exterior dark- 
ness, the fire which is not extinguished, and the prison 
without an exit, where there will be gnashing of teeth and 
unending tears. 

When human justice wishes to strike down an evil man, 
a scaffold is erected in the public square and the people 
"are summoned to be present at the terrible spectacle. In 
some lands, the broken body of the miscreant is left for 
days on end hanging by the road or upon the gibbet 
where he breathed his last in order that such an example 
may frighten wrongdoers who might be led astray by wicked 
passions. ~ Jesus Christ acts in the same way as human 
justice: He shows the malefactor the sword which hangs 
over his head, so that, being stricken with fear, he may 
not contravene His law, and may do good instead of evil. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola used to say that he knew of no 
sermons more useful and beneficial than those on Hell. 
Reflections on the beauties of virtue and the delights and 


attractions of divine love have little influence upon 
coarse, sensual men. Amidst the noisy pleasures of their 
lives, the seductive bad examples set before them, the 
traps and pitfalls set beneath their feet, the threat of 
Hell is the only curb powerful enough to keep them on the 
path of duty. For the same reason St. Teresa would often 
bid her '_ austere nuns _ to 7go ~ down to Hell in spirit and 
thought during their life, so as to avoid, she said, going 
there in reality after their death. 

In the study which we are about to undertake on this 
serious question of the fate reserved for those who die at 
enmity with God, we shall avoid all disputed opinions, 
proceeding by rigorous reasoning and with the aid _of sound 
theology, taking as our sole basis Scripture and the true 
knowledge of tradition and of the Fathers. In the first 
place, does Hell exist, and is it certain that the punish- 
ments endured there are eternal? Secondly, of what nature 
is the punishment of Hell, and where does it take place? 
Thirdly, can the mercy of God be reconciled with the idea 
of a justice which no reparation can ever appease? 

No man can undertake the study of these supreme 
considerations without hearing the echo of these words of 
Scripture resounding in his innermost soul: "Be watchful, 
serve the Lord thy God and keep his commandments; for in 
this is the whole of man." He who reflects upon these 
awesome truths is certain to improve; he will at once feel 
his spirit transformed, and his nature enhanced in strength 
of virtue and love of good. 

That the punishments of Hell are eternal is a truth 
formally taught by Holy Scripture; it is part of the 
Christian creed; numerous councils have defined it as an 
article of faith. [231] St. Matthew, in chapter 18, and 
St. John, in chapter 14 of the Apocalypse, speaking about 
the pains of the demons and reprobate, say that they will 
be of endless duration. [232] St. Mark, chapter 9, and 
Isaias, chapter 66, say that their fire will not be ex- 
tinguished, and their worm will not die. Quoting these 
words St. Augustine remarks that the nature of this worm 
and the materiality or immateriality of the fire is open 
to discussion; but what is true beyond all dispute from 
the words of the prophet is that the rigours of this fire 
will never be moderated, and that the tortures of this 
worm will never diminish. [233] 

When Jesus Christ speaks about the supreme sentence 
which He will pronounce one day, He retains and confirms 

[231] Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam aeternam, qui vero 
mala in ignem aeternum. Haec est fides catholica, quam nisi 
quisque fideliter, firmiterque crediderit, salvus esse non 
poterit. ( Athanasian Creed ) 

Si quis dixerit etiam post mortem hominem justificari 
posse, aut poenas damnatorum in gehenna perpetuas futuras esse 
negaverit, anathema sit. (Vatican Council (1870) : Dogmatic 
Constitution on the Catholic Faith ) 

[232] Et fumus tormentorum eorum ascendet in saecula saeculorum. 

[233] St. Augustine. : Ad Orosium, chapter 6. 


the same parity between justification and condemnation; 
neither in the rewards of the just nor in the punishment 
of the wicked does He make any distinction of degree or 
time: "And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but 
the just into life everlasting ." [234] Thus, if eternal 
life can have no limit of time, eternal death, too, will 
be without limit or end. 

From these various testimonies, we know that mercy is 
excluded from Hell, and that there can be no place there 
for redemption. Quia in inferno nulla est redemptio. 
Moreover, there are only three ways whereby the reprobate 
and the demons could be released from justice and obtain 
freedom or mitigation of their pains: by -a true and sin- 
cere repentance; or by the power of the prayers of the 
saints and the works of satisfaction offered up by the 
living; or else by the destruction of their existence - in 
other words, as it is absolutely impossible for God to take 
them to Himself, He would, by making them cease to exist, 
thereby bring their torments to an end. Now, the repro- 
bate cannot do penance. God has never granted pardon to 
Satan because Satan has never repented . Sometimes, says 
St. Thomas, a person repents and hates sin in one or two 
ways: absolutely or accidentally. He who hates sin abso - 
lutely , hates it on account of its intrinsic ugliness, and 
because it is an offence against God; he who hates it 
acc identally , hates it, not out of love of God, but out of 
love of himself: in other words, he does not really detest 
sin, but only the pain, the evils which it has brought 
him. The will of the damned is still inclined to evil, 
and their horror and detestation of their punishment is 
neither repentance nor atonement. [235] Undoubtedly they 
are consumed by desires and dreams; but the object of 
these dreams is their own happiness, which they would 
arrange independently of God. 

Such is the dream of the demons and the damned, a 
dream eternally futile which consumes them in unceasing 
despair and rage. So, the damned cannot repent. Can they 
share in the prayers and merits of the living? If this 
were so, Lucifer and his angels would be able, in the more 
or less distant future, to return to favour; consequently 
they would become holy creatures, worthy of reverence and 
love, by the same right as the. cherubim and the arch- 
angels, whom they would one day embrace in an eternal 
"communion. It would follow, too, that the Church would be 
obliged to pray for the demons. The demons are, in truth, 
our worst enemies, but the precept of charity requires us 
to pray for all our enemies without exception. The Church 
prays for the persecutors in this world because, during 
the present life, they can produce worthy fruits of repent- 
ance; but even on the day of Judgement, when she will be 

[234] Ibunt hi in supplicium aeternum, justi autem in vitam 
aeternam._ (Matthew 25:46) 

[235] Poenitere de peccato contingit dupliciter, uno modo per 
se, _alio- modo per accidens. Per se quidem de peccato poenitet, 
qui peccatum quantum est peccatum abominatur. Per accidens, 
qui illudTodit ratione alicujus adjuncti utpote poenae vel ali- 
cujus hujusmodi. Mali igitur non poenitebunt per se loquendo 
de peccatis, quia voluntas malitiae in eis remanet; poenitebunt 
autem per accidens, in quantum affligentur, de poena quam pro 
peccato sustinent. (S. Thomas: Summa Theologica , Q.98, A. 11) 


filled with love and holiness, she will not pray for those 
sentenced by the just Judge to everlasting torments. If 
the reprobate can expect to be saved one day, not only 
must the Church pray for them but, in addition, we do not 
see why she would forbid the faithful to venerate them and 
why she would not gather up the remains of the Neros, 
Robespierres and Marats, to honour them on the altar, by 
the same right as the ashes of the Aloys ius -Gonzagas, 
Vincent de Pauls and Francis de Sales. 

In short, it is evident that the sufferings of the 
reprobate will have no- end and that their existence wxll 
never be destroyed. Holy Scripture depicts their pitiful 
state by calling it "secunda mors", a "second death . St. 
Gregory says: "It will be a death that will never be 
consummated, an end always followed by a new beginning, a 
dissolution that will never bring decay. "[236] St. August- 
ine expresses with no less vigour and clarity the sad 
condition of that death which, while letting the soul sub- 
sist eternally, will make it endure its pangs and horrors 
in all their intensity: "It cannot be said that there 
will be the life of the soul in Hell, since the soul will 
not share in any way in the supernatural life of God; it 
cannot be said that there will be the life of the body, 
since the body will there be a prey to all kinds of pains. 
Hence, this second death will be more cruel ^than the first 
because death can never bring it to an end. "[237] 

To these theological proofs, let us add the proofs 
from reason. 

If there were not an eternal Hell, Christianity would 
disappear and the moral order would be abolished. 

This truth about the eternity of punishment is linked 
essentially to the great truths of religion - to the Fall 
of man, the Incarnation and Redemption - which logically 
imply its certainty. If there were no Hell, why would 
Jesus Christ have descended from Heaven, why His abasement 
in the crib, His ignominies, sufferings and sacrifice on 
the Cross? This excess of love on the part of a God Who 
became man in order to die would have been an act devoid 
of any wisdom, and out of proportion with its declared 
aim, if it had been simply a matter of delivering us from 
a temporal, transient punishment, such as is Purgatory. 
Man, then, had fallen irremediably upon evil days, and was 
condemned to infinite disgrace, since only a divine remedy 
could raise him up again. 

[236] Fit ergo miseris mors sine morte, finis sine fine, defect- 
us sine defectu: Quia et mors vivit, et finis semper incipit, 
et deficere defectus nescit. (St. Gregory the Great: Morals 1, 
9, chapter LXVIJ 

[237] Miseria sempiterna, quae etiam secunda mors dicitur; quia 
nee anima ibi vivere dicenda est, quae a vita Dei aliena erit; 
nee corpus quod aeternis doloribus subjacebit; ac per hoc 
durior ista secunda mors erit, quia finiri morte non potent. 
(St. Augustine: City of God , book 19, chapter 28) 


Otherwise we should have to say that Christ redeemed 
us only from a finite punishment, from which we might have 
freed ourselves by our own amends; and, in that case, 
would not the treasures of His blood be superfluous? 
There would no longer be any redemption in the strict and 
absolute sense of the word: Jesus Christ would not be our 
Saviour; the debt of boundless gratitude and love which He 
demands of men would be an inordinate and unwarranted 
claim. With the God made man cast down from the throne of 
our hearts and our worship, Christianity would become a 
hoax, and all consistent minds would necessarily be led to 
reject revelation and to reject God Himself. 

If there is no eternal Hell, there is- no moral order. 

The foundation of the moral order is the absolute and 
essential difference between good and evil. Good and evil 
are different in essence, because their conclusions are 
different and they result in opposite outcomes; but, if we 
abolish the eternal sanction of punishment, vice and 
virtue reach the same conclusion. Each, by different 
means, attains its last end, which is repose and happiness 
in the bliss of God. The same fate falls to the share of 
those who have been instruments of evil and to those who, 
right up to the end, have been incorruptible vessels of 

You may say: "Agreed, but it will be a thousand or a 
hundred thousand years sooner for the just; a thousand or 
a hundred thousand years later for the wicked." What does 
that matter? A period of atonement, however long you 
suppose it to be, does not constitute an essential differ- 
ence between the destiny of the one and that of the other. 
During our fleeting, transient life, when moments, once 
passed, never recur, a period of a thousand or a hundred 
thousand years is of some consequence; but, as soon as man 
has entered into eternal life, a thousand or a hundred 
thousand years no longer have any significance: they are 
less than a grain of sand in the desert, or a drop of 
water in the ocean. Imagine a future composed of punish- 
ments, as long as you wish, double the years, pile cent- 
uries upon centuries - so long as the end is the same for 
all, the past counts for nothing. Once a punishment is 
over, the extent of its duration, compared with eternity, 
will seem such a tiny quantity, so infinitesimal, that it 
will be as if it did not exist. 

It would in fact be true to say - since there is no 
perceptible difference between one eternity and another - 
that sin would have brought no harm upon the sinner. For 
example, let us suppose that, as punishment for my sins, 
God hurls me into the flames for centuries. I have this 
consolation: I know that I have for myself a measure of 
comparison, mathematically equal to that of the just man. 
I have eternity; so there is an eternity of joy and glory 
for one who has served God and loved Him until death, and 
an eternity of joy and glory for the wicked man who 
thrilled with pleasure as he did evil, and constantly 
spurned the divine laws and commandments. Now, if these 
two final ends are the same, if, by way of evil even, as by 
way of good, we unfailingly attain life - the life of 
eternity - the conclusion is inescapable that virtue _ahd 
crime are two means towards an equaL security; that it is 
optional for man to follow one or the other as he pleases; 
and that the most sordid lives and the most pure lives 


are of equal merit and dignity, since both lead to the 
same perfection and happiness. 

Once such a scheme is granted, morality, public order 
and all semblance of honesty must disappear from the 
earth. Justice is stripped of its sanction, conscience is 
a prejudice, virtue, and sacrifice are a stupid exertion. 
Remove the fear of eternal punishment from mankind and the 
world will be filled with crime; the most execrable mis- 
deeds will become a duty whenever they can be committed 
without risk of prison or the sword. Hell will simply 
happen sooner: instead of being postponed until the future 
life, it will be inaugurated in the midst of humanity, in 
the present life. As a contemporary writer has said: 
"There can be no middle way for society - it is either God 
or the gun." If there is no sanction beyond death, might 
prevails over right, the hangman becomes the pivot and 
corner-stone of the social order , and justice will be 
proclaimed in the name of death instead of being pro- 
claimed in the name of God. "Besides," remarks another 
moralist, "by virtue of what right will the courts repress 
crime, when it has the approbation of divine impunity, and 
when eternal justice undertakes not to bestir itself to 
impose its legitimate punishment?" [238] 

The conscience of the nations has rebelled against 
this monstrous consequence. Amidst the explosion of error 
and the collapse of true belief, the doctrine of a future 
state of rewards and punishments has remained unshaken. 
It is found amongst the pagans. Virgil gave expression to 
their belief in these famous lines: 

Sedet aeternumque sedebit infelix Theseus. (Aeneid, 
VI, 618) . 

Rostroque immanis vultur obunco 
Immortale jecur tondens... 
Nee fibris requies datur ulla renatis. 
(Ibid. VI, 597) 

"The vile miscreants whose souls are incurable," says 
Plato (Phaedo, 113E[62]), "are tormented by punishments 
which convulse but do not cure them. Souls who have 
committed grave crimes are hurled into the abyss which is 
called Hell. Such is the judgement of the gods who dwell 
in Heaven: the good are reunited to the good, the wicked 
to the wicked. " 

How astonishing this assent among all men - poets, 
philosophers, peoples, kings, civilized and barbarian - to 
a truth which troubles our minds, and which men would have 
so much interest in denying! Here we might shelter behind 
the authority and weight of this fundamental axiom: Quod 
semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus" - "that which has 
been believed always, everywhere and by everyone - is, 
necessarily, the truth. Every dogma has been changed 
except this one.* All the important points of Catholic 
theology have given rise to dispute, except Hell which has 
escaped that common law. It has come down to us, without 
encountering one man who disputed its justice or, at 
least, cast doubt upon its awesome certainty. ine 
Protestants, who denied so many things, did not deny this. 
Destroyers of whatever most offended the human spirit, or 
penance, virginity and the value of good works, they did 

* Note by the publishers of the English edition. Clearly 
Fr. Arminjon means that every dogma has been changed by here 
tics, not by the Church. 

[238] Lacordaire: De la Sanction du Gouvernement Divin. 


not strip Hell of its terrifying attributes. Their hands, 
which had not respected the door of the tabernacle wherein 
the flesh of the Man-God reposes in bounty and sacrifice 
drew back from the threshold of this place of suffer- 
ing. .."[239] 

Contemporary rationalism alone has dared to go as far 
as to deny it, and, strange to say, has done so by taking 
refuge in the very bosom of divine perfection. It has 
impugned the justice, greatness and wisdom of God and, 
even while denying the Redemption, appeals to that very 
excess of love which Jesus Christ poured out as He expired 
on the Cross. 

"God," it is said, "is too perfect, too sublime, too 
noble a being to want to crush a frail creature eternally 
beneath the panoply of His power, one who has been led 
into evil, by an outburst of anger, or by weakness. That 
would be an act of vengeance and retaliation, unworthy of 
His glory and perfections." We reply that, if crime went 
unpunished, greatness would cease to be the prerogative of 
God, and would belong in its fullness to sinful man. It 
would rest with him, by a single act of his will, to make 
rebellion triumph against the divine government. So God 
must have been labouring under an illusion the day when, 
for His glory, leaving His state of repose, He enacted the 
fundamental law that the creature must tend towards Him in 
each of its aspirations, serve and love Him by constant 
acts of praise, allegiance and worship? God would then no 
longer be our essential and final end. 

Let us suppose, as some have dared to maintain, that 
Hell is merely a place of vexation and sorrow where the 
captive soul undergoes only a mitigated, limited suffer- 
ing. Let us imagine, on this supposition, Satan and his 
accomplices surpassing themselves in rebellion and pride, 
and saying to the God who rejected them: "We are in good 
shape, and we possess a tolerable enough existence for us 
to agree to do without you forever. It is true that we 
are far from possessing perfect bliss, but we have a 
quality of life and repose which is our own work, and we 
are content with it: if we are not radiant like your 
angels, at least we are not your subjects, we do not serve 
you or obey you." 

Such would be the sentiments of every creature shut 
out from God's bosom if he succeeded in rejecting his 
heritage without experiencing pain, intense and unending, 
like the happiness which he freely and obstinately spurn- 
ed. Were God, in order to alleviate the misery of the 
devils and the damned, to allow them but a shadow of good, 
a slender hope, or a drop of water to refresh them, they 
would cling to that shadow, that semblance, with all the 
strength of "their exhausted, gasping will, they would 
strive with their whole soul after that crumb of solace, 
seeking to beguile themselves with it, and to delude 
themselves as to the extent and depth of their misfortune; 
and one would have to be ignorant of man's nature to 
imagine that he would not resign himself to this mitigated 
Hell, rather than bend the knee and submit. 

[239] Lacordaire: De la Sanction du Gouvernement Divin . 


earth. "[253] Finally, let us quote Suarez ' s argument, 
which complements and further clarifies St. Thomas's. 
"Hell," he says, "is a prison which will also serve as an 
abode for the rebellious angels and for the demons; this 
abode cannot be other than the most unpleasant, obscure 
and ignominious of all created places; it is fitting that 
it should be at opposite ends and at the greatest distance 
from the one destined for the elect. Now, the elect will 
reign eternally in the highest part of Heaven, which is 
the empyrean heaven, and so the lowest part of the earth, 
is the place where the damned will suffer their eternal 
torments . " 

Let us observe, however, that it is not a truth of: 
faith that Hell is situated in the centre of the earth. 
The Church has not defined anything on this point; it is 
simply the most probable opinion, based upon the almost 
unanimous testimony of the Doctors and Fathers.. 

And whatever may be the case, the important thing, 
as St. John Chrysostom says, is not to know where Hell is, 
but to ensure that we shall not, one day, be cast into it: 
ne igitur quaeramus, ubi sit, sed quomodo earn (Gehennam) 
effugiamus. [254] 

Such, then, seems to be the place of Hell. [255] The 
fire which tortures the devils and the damned is a. 
material fire: a material fire which makes its action felt 
on spirits and on separated souls. It remains for us to 
consider how the implacable severity of divine justice can 
be reconciled with its infinite mercy. 

[253] Augustinus in libro XII, Super Genesesim , duas rationes 
tangere videtur, quare congruum est infernum esse sub terra. 
Una est, ut quoniam defunctorum animae carnis amore pecca— 
verunt, hoc eis exhibeatur quod ipsi carni mortuae solet 
exhiberi, ut scilicet sub terra recludantur. Alia est quod, 
sicut est gravitas in corporibus, ita tristitia in spiritibus, 
et laetitia sicut levitas; unde sicut, secundum corpus, si 
ponderis sui ordinem teneant, inferiora sunt omnia graviora ita 
secundum spiritum, inferiora sunt tristiora. Et sic, sicut 
conveniens locus gaudio electorum est coelum empyreum, ita 
conveniens locus tristitiae damnatorum est infimum terrae. (St- 
Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica , Q.98, A. 7) 

[254] St. John Chrysostom: Homily on the Epistle to the Romans , 

[255] The objection is raised that the centre of the earth 
cannot hold the multitude of the damned. However, as Suarez 
observes, after * the resurrection, Hell will be enlarged by the 
whole space of Purgatory and of the limbo of children who died 
unbaptized, which will be empty. Children who die unbaptized 
will never see God; but several Doctors express the opinion 
that they will live on the surface of the earth, where they 
will enjoy a merely natural happiness. As for the earth, its 
volume can be increased and the abyss expanded as much as 
necessary, in accordance with the words of Isaias: Dilatavit 
infernus animam suam - Therefore hath hell enlarged her soul. 
(Isaias 5:14) 



A witty man once said of the wicked: They are always 
getting in the way, in this world and in the next. In one 
sense it may be said that sinful men "get in God's way" to 
an even greater extent than the worst malefactors "get in 
the way" of human society. 

It is of faith that God desires the salvation of all 
men and that, so far as it lies with Him, He excludes no 
one from the fruits of the Redemption. He did not will- 
ingly create Hell; on the contrary, He exhausts all the 
means of His wisdom and all the secrets of His tenderness 
to forewarn us against such a misfortune, as He says by 
the mouth of Isaias: Quid est quod debui ultra facere 
vineae meae et non feci? [256] 

If God were able to suffer, no anguish would be 
comparable to the sorrow which His heart would feel when 
He is compelled to condemn a soul. The holy Cure d'Ars 
once said: "If it were possible for God to suffer, as He 
damned a soul He would be gripped with the same horror and 
the same tremor as a mother who was herself compelled to 
let the blade of the guillotine fall upon the neck of her 

Behold Jesus Christ at the Last Supper: He gazes upon 
Judas with an expression which shows sadness and the 
bitterest grief. He is violently troubled, and in the 
last extremity of consternation. He understands, better 
than we can ever conceive, how horrible is the state of a 
man adrift, irremediably lost, left without any means of 
retracing his steps and taking his destiny back into his 
own hands. He tries, by every imaginable means, to. avert 
the loss of this wretched man; He casts Himself at his 
feet and Kisses them; He admits him, despite his unworth- 
iness, to the feast of His sacred flesh; and, when the 
darkness, which more and more engulfs the obdurate soul of 
Judas, has blocked every avenue by which divine grace 
might have forced its way in, Christ weeps. He seems to 
forget that this traitor has chosen Him as the victim of 
his dastardly greed. He sees only the horror of his fate, 
and says in anquish: "It were better for him if that man 
had never been born. " [257] 

you that accuse the Creator of harshness, and 
reproach Him for not going to the extreme limits of His 
omnipotence in order to prevent His creature from perish- 
ing eternally, tell Him your way, teach Him your secret. 
What do you want God to do? 

Would you ask Him to abolish Hell? To abolish Hell 
would be to abolish Heaven. Do you believe that the 
martyrs, anchorites, virgins and saints, at this moment 
delighting in the joys of bliss, would have kept apart 
from seductive pleasures, trampled upon worldly snares, 
sought out solitary places, come through persecutions and 

[256] What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard-^ that 
I have not done to it? (Isaias 5:4) 

[257]~Bonum erat ei si natus non fuisset homo ille. (Matthew 


braved the hangman and the sword, if they had not had in 
mind the Master's word: "Fear ye not them that kill the 
body and are not able to kill the soul; but rather than 
fear him that can destroy both soul and body in 
Hell." [258] 

Divine love awoke in them only when, by courageous 
mortification, they were detached from sin and sensual 
habits. The starting-point of their justification was 
fear: "Initium sapientiae timor."[259] The thunder which 
aroused them from their slumber and lethargy was the 
terrifying word: Eternity. It was then that they looked 
upon their luxurious houses and the gilded panelling of 
their palaces, and said: This is where every day we amass 
treasures of wrath, where all seductions come together for 
our perdition. Hatred of God, flames, an endless curse 
for a day's pleasure - this is what awaits us... The next 
day these men would go barefoot, dressed in sackcloth, 
seeking the road which leads to the wilderness and the 
desert. Without these merciful fears, the City of God 
would never have filled up; we should all have strayed 
from the right path; no one would have done good, non est 
qui faciat bonum, non est usque ad unum. 

God cannot abolish Hell without abolishing Heaven. 
Shall He then wait, pardon and keep on pardoning? That is 
just what He does. In this life He never abandons even 
the person who spurns Him. He pursues him right into the 
sanctuary of his conscience, through an inner voice which 
does not cease for a single instant to make itself heard. 
In the face of the temptation which incites us to evil 
this voice rings out and calls to us: Beware! If we turn 
a deaf ear, He does not hasten to cut the thread of our 
life, as would be His right. He does not watch out for 
the moment when we go astray in order to make this the 
final moment of death for us. He comes back to us. He 
makes us feel the sting of remorse, and, not disheartened 
by our refusals, waits for years. He lets the years of 
maturity succeed the wildness of youth, and the icy hand 
of old age replace the illusions that beguile even man- 
hood: and all His efforts are in vain. A man's last hour 
finally rings; most often it is preceded by illness, the 
premonitory sign of his .approaching end. This man is 
still obdurate. One minute before his last sigh, God 
still offers to take him to Himself and save him from the 
fires of the abyss. His voice has no more strength, and 
his condition is desperate. It would be enough that, in 
the intimacy of his heart, he should utter these simple 
words: "I love you, and I repent." These words would be 
his saving grace... - and the sinner stubbornly refuses to 
say them. We ask: what can God do? Shall He, to sanctify 
the hardness of heart of this creature, overturn the whole 
plan and all the counsels of His wisdom, annihilate the 
darkness by a foolish act of omnipotence, because a be- 
sotted man has blinded himself so as to have no part in 
the divine light? Ah, God has the right to wash His hands 
and say: "0 man, thy perdition is thy work, and not mine. 
Perditio tua ex te, Israel." 

[258] Et nolite timere eos qui occidunt corpus, animam non 
possunt occidere; sed potius timete eum qui potest et animam et 
corpus perdere in gehennam. (Matthew 10:28) 

[259] Ecclesiastes 1:16. 


Yet why should grace and redemption be excluded from 
Hell? When a man's eyes have been opened; as he sees the 
last of his illusions crumble, and, terror-stricken, he 
realizes the full extent of his wretchedness, why would 
God not let a final ray of His mercy fall upon him? Why 
would He not hold out a hand to this unfortunate man, who 
would grasp it with a love and gratitude proportionate to 
the immensity of his deliverance? We do not hesitate to 
reply that God cannot - He cannot, at least, without 
losing His infinite dignity. He would be obliged to bow 
down, of His own accord, before a rebellious, obdurate 
creature who, far from appealing to Him*, hates and curses 
Him. Death has placed the sinner in a position which 
leaves him no choice. He knows it with a certainty which 
overwhelms his free will. He remains hardened in hatred 
and pride, magnified by his tears and despair. To arouse 
a salutary, meritorious sorrow in him, he would require a 
grace. That grace he does not seek, does not want. True, 
he abhors his punishment, but he has a supreme hatred of 
God, as well as of the gifts and lights emanating from the 
Heart of God. 

And yet, is God just, and does He not go beyond all 
proportion, when He punishes a passing fault, committed in 
a single moment, with an eternity of pains? Here, reason 
is powerless, for God is the greatest of mysteries. Sin 
is a mystery as unfathomable as the majesty of Him whom it 
offends; and the punishment due to its evil is another 
immeasurable mystery which the human mind will never 
succeed in solving. 

All we can say is that, if we consider the person of 
God, the insult offered to Him by sin is an infinite 
insult. Now as man, on account of the limitations of his 
nature, cannot sustain a punishment infinite in severity 
and intensity , it is only just that he should suffer a 
punishment infinite in duration . Human justice is the 
image and configuration of divine justice. The right to 
punish and sentence a guilty man to death is conferred 
upon earthly tribunals for the service and good of men. 
They pass sentence for crimes, not because of their intrin- 
sic deformity and because they offend God, but because 
they are harmful and prejudicial to the common good and 
the right ordering of human society. Yet they have the 
right to inflict a perpetual punishment upon a murderer 
whose crime was committed in a single moment, to remove 
him for ever from human society because he has violated 
the moral and human order. All the more reason why God 
has the right to inflict a perpetual punishment upon one 
who has violated the universal and divine order, and to 
banish him for ever from the society of Heaven. 

It is in no way repugnant, observes St. Augustine, 
that God should restrict His mercy to the years of the 
present life, so that, when these have passed, there will 
be no place for pardon. - Do not the princes of the earth 
act in the same way, when they refuse to reprieve men 
locked up in prison even though they show repentance and 
sincere detestation of the crimes which they have commit- 

Among the various schemes devised in order to recon- 
cile God's mercy with justice, the most rational, the most 
acceptable, and the one which, at first sight, appears to 


provide a satisfactory solution to the formidable problem 
of human destiny, is the scheme conceived by Pythagoras 
and the Oriental sects, according to which, instead of 
casting a man into endless ignominy, God will introduce 
him to a second period of trials where, as in the pre- 
ceding ones, there will be a mixture of light and darkr 
ness, the path of freedom will be open- to him, and in it 
there will be temptations, divisions "and conflict between 
God, dimly perceived, and creatures who parade their 
seductions. .. -- 

Let us at once admit that, of all the doctrines 
opposed to Christianity, the doctrine of metempsychosis or 
transmigration of souls is unquestionably to be preferred. 
At a superficial glance it appears to leave belief in an 
immortal life intact, and seems not to impugn the divine 
attributes nor to deprive human law of its sanction. But, 
if we look at this doctrine in detail, we see clearly that 
it places us back amidst all the preceding difficulties, 
and raises others still more insoluble. As an illustrious 
Christian philosopher observes: "If this second life to 
which you introduce man is not purer than the first - if 
his soul dies there a second time through sin - to which 
period will God confine Himself? Shall the soul have an 
imprescriptible right to retrace the course of its migrat- 
ions, without God ever being able to restrain and punish 
it other than by giving it the right to continue to offend 
Him? Instead of that frightening prospect in which the 
judgement is seen as life's awesome barrier, the sinner 
would go to the grave, feeling as secure as a man passing 
under a portico, and would say to himself, with all the 
derision of his impunity: The universe is large, the 
centuries are long; let us first complete our passage 
through worlds and times. Let us go from Jupiter to 
Venus, from the first heaven to the second, from the 
second to the third; and if, after spaces and periods 
beyond number, it should happen that there are no more 
suns left for us, we shall present ourselves before God 
and say to Him: Here we are, our time has come; make us 
new heavens and new stars; for, if you are weary of wait- 
ing for us, we are not weary of cursing you and of manag- 
ing without you. "[260] 

Finally, we may say, love is all-powerful, with its 
own secrets and excesses, of which our hearts can have no 
inkling and, whatever may be said, cannot consent to con- 
demn forever a creature made by its own hands, redeemed by 
its own blood. Ah! We might indeed set love against 
justice if it were justice that punished. But justice was 
propitiated nineteen centuries ago, on Calvary; at the 
foot of the Cross it forgave men the debts which they had 
incurred for their crimes, casting away the sword of 
rigour, never to wield it again. 

Let us, listen to St. Paul: "Who shall accuse against 
the elect of God? God is he that justifieth. Who is he 
that shall condemn? Christ Jesus that died; yea that is 

[260] Lacordaire: De la Sanction du Gouvernement Divin. 


risen also again, who is at the right hand of God, who 
also maketh intercession for us. "[261] 

It is because malediction comes from love that there 
can be no redemption therefrom. 

If it were justice that punished, love might inter- 
vene once more on the mount and say: Mercy, Father, spare 
man and, in exchange for the death that is due to him, re- 
ceive the homage of my flesh and blood! 

However, when it is the very one who is to us more 
than a brother, more than the most affectionate friend, 
who hardens that heart riven with love and changes it into 
an inexhaustible furnace of hatred, how can the ingrati- 
tude of the man who has wrought this transformation (all 
the more terrible as it is unnatural) dare to expect hope 
and refuge? 

you who, at one time or other on this earth, have 
loved with a love that is sincere, ardent and boundless: 
you know the demands and the laws of love. Love offers 
itself for a long time, insistently and abundantly; it 
suffers, dedicates itself unreservedly, humbles itself and 
becomes small. But one thing which renders it implacable, 
and which it never forgives, is obduracy in contempt, 
contempt maintained until the end. 

Go, then, ye cursed, the Saviour will say on the day 
of His- judgement: Ite maledicti. I did everything for 
you; I gave My life, My blood, My divinity and My person 
for you. And in return for My infinite generosity, I 
asked only for these simple words: I obey and I love You. 
You have constantly spurned Me and have responded to My 
approaches solely with these words: Go, I prefer my gross 
concerns and my brutish pleasures to You. 

Be your own judges, the Saviour will add. What sen- 
tence would you pronounce against the most dearly beloved 
creature who displayed the same indifference and same 
obstinacy towards you? 

It is not I who condemn you, it is you who have 
damned yourselves. You have chosen, of your own free 
will, the city where egotism, hatred and revolt have 
established their dominion. I return to Heaven where My 
angels are, and thither I bring back this Heart, the 
object of your insults and scorn. Be the children of your 
own choice, stay with yourselves, with the worm that does 
not die and the fire that is never extinguished. 

Let us tremble, but let us also be penetrated with a 
lively and unshakable confidence! Damnation is a work of 
love. It is the incarnate mercy which will determine our 
fate and convey the eternal sentence. It is easy to avert 
it while the present life lasts. Love in this world never 
requires a perfect parity between the fault and the pen- 
alty. It is content with little - a sigh, a sign of 
goodwill. Jesus Christ opens His Heart to us, the price 

[261] Quis accusabit adversus electos Dei? Deus qui justificat. 
Quis est qui condemnet? Christus Jesus, qui mortuus est, imo 
qui et resurrexit, qui est ad dexteram Dei, qui etiam inter- 
pellat pro nobis. (Romans 8:33,34) 


of His blood and His conquest. He destines eternity for 
us; not an eternity of tears and suffering, but an eter- 
nity of bliss which we shall possess with Him, in the 
bosom of His Father, in union with the Holy Ghost and in 
the very centre of His glory. Amen. 



Eternal bliss and the supernatural v ision pf God 

Haec requies mea in saeculum saeculi 
hie habitabo guoniara elegi earn. 

This is my rest for ever and ever; 
here I will dwell, for I have chosen it. 

(Psalm 131:14) 

Our destiny is an enigma, which reason alone cannot 
explain; but faith elevates our thoughts, strengthens our 
courage and enkindles our hope. 

It tells us: have no fear, you are not wandering 
alona some out-of-the-way, uncertain- path. Beyond our 
SoSSl yeTrs?" there is a* new life, of ^is^eagS"^ 
one is only a portrait and an image. On this earth, we 
are travel lers ; but in the world above, beyond the stars 
and all_ space, lies our heritage and native land. 

Pilgrims and exiles, we now live beneath tents: in 
the world to come, the Lord will build us permanent dwell- 

The foolish man, who has no understanding of our 
destiny and our hopes, accuses the Creator of injustice, 
pointing out sign? of imperfection in ^ .des^ns of 
divine wisdom. He is like a savage or an inhabitant of a 
rZott island who one day goes into one of our gilding 
yards. There he sees stones scattered about, materials 
lyinq on top of one another, workmen carving metals and 
cuttinq away marble; and in the spectacle presented by 
SSis activity? - he sees only a picture of confusion 
and ruin. He does not know that the apparent disorder 
Jill, one day, engender an order of admirable perfection. 
£ the same way, we err in our judgements on the conduct of 
GoV towards men; we see nothing more than a pointless 
harshness in the mystery of suffering; we bear the burden 
of H re without courage or dignity, because we do not know 
how to raise our eyes and our hopes above the limited 
sights and perspectives of "the present life, and because 
we do not reflect upon their destiny and end. 

- Our destiny is the possession of God and eternal 
life- to live in that abode from which all evil is absent 
and Where we enjoy a multitude and abundance of every 
good, a place which is commonly called Heaven. "eayen. 
this -is the torch before which the vivid appeal of earthly 
things "fades, the light which by transforming our judge- 
ments makes us cherish poverty, sickness and th « insl 9; 
nificance of our state of life as a good, and makes us 
regard JicLs, the glamour of honours, the favour and 
praise of the world as an evil. The thought and expect- 
ation of Heaven impelled Paul to face the most arduous 
labours and the most formidable perils, giving him a 
superabundance of joy amidst his suf f . e " n 9° a"*?"^; 
ions. The thought of Heaven enkindled a holy thirst tor 


martyrdom among the confessors, and made them indifferent 
to worldly honours and comforts. 

When they beheld the pageantry of kings and the mag- 
nificence of courts, Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, Anthony 
and their like were filled with aversion and, with disdain 
in -_ their hearts, they exclaimed: Earth, how vile you 
appear to me when I contemplate Heaven! 

Consider the traveller who returns from distant 
lands, bathed in perspiration and exhausted by his long 
journey. He walks painfully, bent over with fatigue and 
leaning upon his stick, but, once he reaches the summit of 
the hill, and discerns, far away in the distance, at the 
farthest horizon and merged with the clouds, the steeple 
of his hamlet, the roof that saw his birth and the trees 
that shaded his childhood games - at once all lassitude 
departs and, finding again the vigour of his youth, he 
runs as if on wings. In the same way, when our constancy 
weakens and we no longer feel equal to the sacrifices 
which the law of God requires of us, let us lift up our 
eyes and turn our thoughts and hearts towards our heavenly 

Yet, how can I describe the marvels of the City of 
God, that vision and those joys beyond words, which no 
language can express and which surpass all the conceptions 
of human understanding? Heaven is something that we have 
not seen. We travellers, wandering in this valley of 
darkness and tears, are reduced, like captive Israel on 
the banks of the Euphrates, to hanging our harps and 
zithers upon the weeping willows of this wretched, human 
life. No human voice, no lyre can ever succeed in produc- 
ing songs and tunes in unison with the melodies and sweet 
harmonies with which that indescribable city resounds. We 
can speak of it only obscurely, by way of rough and defect- 
ive comparisons. Our sole resource is to call to mind the 
sketches to be found, here and there, in the Sacred Books 
and in the treasury of the Doctors, as well as in the dim 
and incomplete insights which the Fathers had on that 
happy abode. Nevertheless, let us hope that divine grace, 
coming to the aid of the weakness of our understanding, 
will compensate for the insufficiency of our words, and 
that, to some extent, we shall be able to turn souls away 
from base affections and make them yearn to possess the 
everlasting fatherland. 

Let us observe that Holy Scripture calls Heaven 
requies , repose. Furthermore, we are told that there are 
two kinds of inhabitants in this abode : in the first 
place, God, Whose temple and throne Heaven is, then the 
angels and men, called to be united with God, and to share 
His happiness. Thus Heaven is a place of rest for man, a 
twofold truth which we propose to elucidate and develop. 

In Holy Scripture, God calls Heaven His repose, 
requies . Heaven is the end and termination of created 
things, in nature and in time; the supreme glorification 
of the infinite Being in His intelligent creatures, when, 
raising them to the ascending heights of all progress and 
perfection, He will set His seal upon the irrevocable 
grandeur of our destiny. 

In order to set out - as far as our weakness 
permits - the splendours of this repose of the Almighty, 


let us imagine an artist who has just completed a master- 
piece and," in a surge of genius, has erected on earth a 
Monument destined to be the clxmax of his : ame, and an 
inimitable challenge for future ages. ** h ^"° r * £^s 
ovhauitPti all the secrets of his art. The world appxauas 
SdTdmfres! 1 The artist, on the other hand gives way to 
a feeling of discouragement and sadness, grieving that he 
is merely a man. In the cold flight of his imagination, 
he has cLght an image, glimpsed a perfection or an idea 
which he is unable to express in any form on the chill 
canvas or the mute stone, and upon which all the cold 
strokes of his brush and all the power of his art are c ome to 
nought. Our artist, seeing the delighted 1-, cr ^b f all at 
his feet, remains pensive and mournful amidst their praise 
and acclaim; he is not satisfied, and envoys no rest. 

If however, the hand and the power of our artist 
were equal to the breadth and thrust °* h± h s ^P^it; if he 
were the master of nature and able to bend it to his 
exaggerations and dreams, to transform it into a perfect, 
living image of the ideal conceived in his mind; if he had 
tie ability to animate the marble and to infuse it with 
feeling and life and if a light more brilliant thar .that 
of the sun were to radiate from the gold and precious 
stone? arranged in such profusion and with «^P«££ 
art- if finally, matter, released from its gravity, rose 
of its own accord to that level in the air whither the 
Sings of his genius had raised it, then that monument 
erected by a great architect, that canvas, produced by the 
teSh of a genius, and that marble sculpted by an incom- 
Srable artist would be finished works, excelling in 
EeautJ alf that oS language has in its power to depic^or 
our mind to conceive. At such a spectacle all mankind 
would be lost in breathless wonderment from which no other- 
marvel could rouse them. The artist would have achieved 
his supreme ideal; he would be satisfied and would en D oy 

Heaven is not the ideal of a human intellect: it is 
the repose of the divine intellect, the ideal and master- 
piece of God, Whose power fecundates the void; Who, .by 
virtue of one word, can make a thousand beautiful things 
aocear in an instant such as we could never remotely 
imagine; a thousand worlds, in comparison with which the 
earth and sky are less than mud and foul smoke. God is as 
much superior to man as His ideal is above that which the 
noblest P and keenest mind could possibly conceive. We lack 
the elements necessary to form even an imperfect sketch of 
the elements * that we mi ht seek to pa int are mere 

vain and crude shifts, similar to the efforts of ^a man 
born blind who, in order to form an idea of light, from 
which he is cut off, seeks comparisons and analogies in 
?he Sense, impenetrable darkness that presses down upon his 
eyelids. - - 

St. John, on the island of Patmos, was transported in 
spirit beyond the bounds of time; and God revealed to him, 
as it were, a shadow and a reflection of the ideal of 
eternal life. As a matter of fact, so as to bring his 
visions within the capacity of our feeble minds, he , re-- 
"""counts them in figurative language, with images borrowed 
Som" nature and the present life. These images -are ^not to 
be interpreted in a material sense; nevertheless, they 
contain striking analogies. It is possible ^V^naoSrs 
therein a pale semblance of that glory and those splendours, 
which surpass all experience and all words. 

"And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, 
coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride 
adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from 


the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with 
men. [262] This city is built of living stones [263] .. . 
and he showed me a river of water of life, clear as 
crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the 
Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both 
sides of the river, was the tree of life, yielding fruits 
every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the 
healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any 
more; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in 
it; and his servants shall serve him. And they shall see 
his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads. And 
night shall be no more; and they shall not need the light 
of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord 
God shall enlighten them; and they jshall reign for ever 
and ever. [264] And, behold, there was a throne set in 
heaven, and upon the throne one sitting. And he that sat 
was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine-stone. 
And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight 
like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were 
four and twenty seats; and upon the seats four and twenty 
ancients sitting; clothed in white garments, and on their 
heads were crowns of gold. And from the throne proceeded 
lightnings and voices and thunders. And there were seven 
lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven 
Spirits of God. [265] The four and twenty ancients fell 
down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adored him 
that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns 
before the throne, saying: Thou art worthy, Lord, our 
God, to receive glory and honour and power; because thou 
hast created all things, and for thy will they were and 
have been created. [266] After this, I saw a great multi- 
tude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes 
and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in 
sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in 
their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: 
Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to 
the Lamb. And one of the ancients said to me: These are 
they who are come out of great tribulation, and have 
washed their robes and have made them white in the blood 
of the Lamb... and he that sitteth on the throne shall 
dwell over them. They shall no more hunger nor thirst; 
neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat. For the 
Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule them 
and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of 
life, and God shall wipe away all tears from their 
eyes. "[277] 

What marvellous descriptions! What human brush could 
produce a more colourful and expressive picture of the 
place of light, serenity and sweet transports! Truly, it 
is the most vivid and striking image of the sweet thrills 
of joy which God destines for His beloved ones. 

Beyond this happiness and these radiant feasts, 
speech is powerless, the mind is lost and cannot conceive 
of any other* triumph or splendour capable of pleasing human 

[262] Apocalypse, 21:2,3. 

[263] Ipsi tamquam lapides vivi superaedif icamini. (1 Peter 2:5) 

[264] Apocalypse 22: 1,2,3,4,5. 

[265] Apocalypse 4:2,3,4,5. 

[266] Apocalypse 4:10,11. 

[267] Apocalypse 7:9,10,12,14,16,17. 


intelligence. At the sight of this, St. John felt enrapt- 
ured: in his inebriation and wonder he cast himself down 
on his face to adore the angel, who had revealed to him 
such sublime mysteries. 

Yet to say that these sights and harmonies are the 
reality of Heaven, the highest ideal of God's creative 
art, would be an affront to the sovereign goodness and 
omnipotence. Even the inspired word cannot rise to real- 
ities which extend beyond the bounds of reason and surpass 
all the strength and capacity of our nature. 

Let us listen to the great apostle Paul, immersed in 
the most exalted raptures, conveyed in spirit as far as 
the third Heaven, and into splendours more profound and 
ineffable than those experienced by the Eagle of Patmos, 
as he exclaims: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither 
hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God 
hath prepared for those that love him." [268] 

inspired prophet, when you tell us that eternal 
life is the collection of all the attractions of the 
world, of all the beauties portrayed in the Sacred Books, 
and when you teach us that the flowers of spring, the tint 
of meadows and fresh-flowing limpid waters are to be found 
there, you are assuredly not straying into fable and 
imaginary pictures. That is really what Heaven is: all 
our riches, beauties and concords, but infinitely more 
than these. When . you describe the elect in Heaven as 
being subtle, immortal, impassible and clothed in a sweet 
light or, rather, in a divine glory which dwells in them 
and penetrates them more subtly than the sun penetrates 
the purest crystal, you are not being deceived by some 
illusion. Heaven is that, too; it is our subtleties, our 
lights and our glory, but infinitely more than these. 
Lastly, when you compare the future bliss to the sweetest 
and most intoxicating transports of the soul, to a joy 
ever new, freed from all disquiet and passion and main- 
taining its intensity and strength through all eternity, 
you do not feed us with false hopes; for Heaven is our 
transports and all our joys, but raised beyond all cal- 
culation, expression and comparison. The eye of man has 
not seen, nor the ear heard, anything comparable or close 
to it. The reason is that the good things which God 
prepares for us surpass all that our senses can perceive, 
all that our experience is capable of acquiring, all the 
thoughts of our minds and the desires that will ever arise 
in our hearts. 

Nee in cor hominis ascendit. St. Bernard, in his 
Sermon 4 On Christmas Eve , says: "Never has man seen the 
inaccessible light, never has his ear heard the inexhaust- 
ible symphonies, nor his heart tasted that incomprehens- 
ible peace." "There," adds St. Augustine, "shines a light 
which no place can contain, there resound praises and song 
which are unlimited in duration. There are fragrances 
which the air does not blow away, savours that never fade, 
goods and sweet joys unaccompanied by any distaste or 
surfeit. There, God is Contemplated continuously, is 
known without any error of apprehension, and praised 
without weariness or diminution. " [269] 

[268] 1 Corinthians 2:9. 

[269] Ibi enim fulget quod non capit locus; ibi sonat quod non 

rapit tempus;ibi olet quod non spar git ventus; ibi sapit 
quod non minuit edacitas: ibi haeret quod non divellit 
satietas; ibi siquidem videtur Deus sine intermissione; 
cognoscitur sine errore; amatur sine offensione; laudatur 
sine fatigatione. (St. Augustine: De spiritu et anima, 
chapter XXXVI. ) 


Heaven is a kingdom of such beauty, a bliss so trans- 
cendant, that God has made it the sole object of His 
thoughts; to this creation, the only one truly worthy of 
His glory, He directs the universality of His works; the 
destiny and succession of empires, the Catholic Church, 
with her dogmas, sacraments and hierarchy, are -ordered 
towards the consummation of this heavenly life. Faith 
teaches us that the assistance of divine grace is indis- 
pensable^to man for him to accomplish the smallest work of 
merit, such as a sign of the Cross or the mere invocation 
of the name of Jesus; all the more reason why eternal 
life, which is the end to which all supernatural works 
tend, deserves to be called the crowning and the apex of 
all the graces bestowed upon us. In the words of St. 
Paul: "Gratia Dei vita aeterna. The grace of God is life 
everlasting." [270] 

The plan and the whole ordinance of the Incarnation 
requires that the state of bliss, which is its end fruit, 
should be of a more perfect order and beyond all natural 
happiness, such as, outside the divine order of grace, 
would have been the recompense for morally good works 
accomplished in the" pure state of innocence. When, at the 
time of the six days, the Creator willed to establish the 
heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, adorning it 
with everything that could make it precious and attractive, 
He spoke just one word: Dixit et facta sunt; but, when He 
willed to construct the city of God, He brought to bear all 
the treasures of His wisdom, chose His own Son as architect, 
bade Him work with His own hands at this important task 
and not to spare His blood, sweat or tears in His labour. 
He tells us that nothing defiled shall enter the sanctuary 
of all justice. He desires that the guests at the eternal 
banquet should feed on His flesh, wash in His blood, 
transform themselves and raise the powers and capacities 
of their souls by becoming, even in this life, as one 
divine nature and disposition. In short, in the con- 
struction of the immortal dwelling-place, He deigns to take 
infinite pains, exhausts the depths of His knowledge and 
carries preparation to the extreme. He wishes this incom- 
parable abode to be truly His house, the highest manifest- 
ation of His attributes and glory, so that on the last 
day, when He contemplates His supreme work, this great 
God, so jealous of His honour, may be able in all truth to 
say: It is well. I have brought the greatest of my designs 
to its perfection; beyond it, I see no kingship, no great- 
ness, that can be bestowed upon the creature whom I have 
destined to reign with Me through all eternity. I am 
satisfied, I have achieved My ideal and obtained My repose: 
Complevitque Deus opus suum quod fecerat, et requievit ab 
universo opere quod patrarat - And God ended His work 
which He had made, and He rested from all His work which 
He had done. [271] 

Heaven is God's ideal, the repose of His intellect. 
Let us add:. it is the repose of His heart. The heart goes 
further than the mind. It has aspirations and impulses, 
unknown to genius, which go beyond all the bounds of 
inspiration and thought. Thus, a mother sees her son rich 
and honoured; the most brilliant crowns glitter on his 
head; the mother cannot conceive of any new fortunes or 
new empires for her child. Her reason says: Enough! Yet 
her heart calls out: More! The happiness of my child is 
greater than all the dreams in which my mind can indulge; 
it does not come up to the limits and presentiments of my 
love, nor attain my heart's ambition. 

[270] Romans 6:23. 
[271] Genesis 2:2. 


As no mother ever loved her dearest son, o the Lord 
loves His predestinate. He is 3 ealous of His dignity, and 
could not permit Himself to be outdone by His creature on 
the score of fidelity and generosity. 

The Lord cannot forget that the saints, when they 
once lived on earth, paid homage to Him by the total 
donation of their repose, their happiness and their whole 
being; that they would have liked to have an ^exhaustible 
flow of blood in their veins, in order to shed it as a 
living and imperishable pledge of their faith; that they 
would' have desired a thousand hearts in their breasts so 
as to consume them in the unquenchable, fires of .their 
?ove, and to possess a thousand bodies, in order that they 
might deliver them to martyrdom, like ™*^J " nc £ aB £ g iJ 
renewed In His gratitude, God exclaims: Now it is My 
turn? The saints have made Me the gift of themselves: can 
I respona other than by giving Myself, without resmction 
or measure? If I place in their hands the sceptre of 
SeatTon, if I surround them with the torrents of My 
light, that is a great deal; it is going beyond their 
highest hopes and aspirations, but it is not the .utmost 
endeavour of My Heart. I owe them more th an paradise, 
more than the treasures of My knowledge; I owe them My 
life, My nature, My eternal, infinite substance. If l 
bring My servants and friends into My house, if I console 
them' and make them thrill with joy by e^ 1 .^^^ 
the embrace of My charity, this satisfies their thirst and 
their desires superabundantly, and is more than the perfect 
repose of their hearts requires; but it is not enough for 
the gratification of My divine Heart, for the replet ion 
and perfect satisfaction of My love I must be the soul 
of their souls, I must penetrate and imbue them with My 
Divinity as fire penetrates iron; I must unite Myself to 
I face to face, eternally, by showing Myself to their 
spirits undisguised and unveiled, without the intervention 
of the senses. My glory must illuminate them, exude and 
radiate through all the pores of their being, o that, 
"knowing Me as I know them, they may become Gods them 
selves. " 

"Oh My Father," exclaimed Jesus Christ, "I have asked 
of You that, where I am, those whom I have loved may be 
there with Me. May they be engulfed and lose themselves 
in the ocean of Your splendours; may they desire, possess, 
niyandthen desire again, may they sink into the bosom 
of Your beatitude and may it be as if nothing remained of 
?heir personality but the knowledge and experience of 
their happiness." 

Here human language fails, and the intellect, in 
amazement, bows submission. Is our doctrine a kind of 
mysticism? Are the hymn and the hopes which such sublime 
prospects arouse in our innermost hearts D ust a Poetic 
dream- or is the vision of God which we have just set 
forth' a truth and a certaiiTf act, resting on a syllogism 
which the Fathers have attested to us and proved irrefut- 
ablv bv their imagery and inspired words? We must have 
recourse to" theological argument, and suspend for a moment 
our songs and transports; for it is good to strengthen 
disturbed and wavering souls- -by dealing with this subject 
as \t deslrves, and combatting all the objections which 
naturalism and cold reason seek to raise in order to 
obscure or contest it. 

Is created being capable of uniting itself so closely 
with God that it sees Him face to face, facie ad faciem? 
Sat will Se mode of this vision be? When we see God as 
He is, shall we know Him in His integrity and without re 


striction? - three important questions that must be re- 
solved. - 

If— we consider things from the narrow compass of our 
reason, God cannot be seen by any creature. God is the 
uncircumscribed, unlimited being. In order that an object 
may he known, says St. Thomas authoritatively, it must be 
contained: in the mind of the person who knows; and it can 
be contained therein only in accordance with the forms and 
capacity for knowledge which that mind possesses. [272] 
Thus we cannot see and know a stone, except insofar as the 
image of this stone, transmitted by our senses, is made 
present and, as it were, contained in our understanding. 
Hence the axiom: "Nothing is in the intellect which is not 
first in the senses. " [273] St. Paul expresses the same 
truth when he says: "For the invisible things of him from 
the creation of the world are clearly seen, being under- 
stood by the things that are made. "[274] To take the 
angels, they are endowed with a nature more perfect than 
ours, they have no need of the aid of tangible things in 
order to rise to the perception of intellectual truths, 
they are an admirable likeness of the divinity, and need 
only contemplate their own being and nature in order to 
rise to the knowledge of the existence of God and of His 
divine attributes. This mode of knowledge always occurs by 
representation, per speculum et in enigmate. For man, it 
is external and material creatures which act as a mirror. 
For the angels, it is their cogitative nature and, though 
pure spirits, they do not have the power to rise to the 
knowledge of God directly, and without intermediary, facie 
ad faciem. 

That is why no one has ever seen God. Deum nemo 
vidit unquam. God "inhabiteth light inaccessible; whom no 
man hath seen, nor can see. "[275] God is at an infinite 
distance from men and angels, and is invisible in Himself. 

Nevertheless it is of faith that man will one day see 
God, as He is, in the brightness of His essence. [276] 
Jesus Christ has said: "He that loveth me shall be loved 
of my Father; and I will love him and make myself manifest 
to him. "[277] God said to Abraham: "I will be thy reward 
exceeding great - Ego ero merces tua magna nimis." 

The vision of God, as described by St. Paul, has ever 
been the object of the desires and the expectation of all 
the Patriarchs and Prophets, an expectation which God 
could not disappoint without derogating from His wisdom 

[272] Cognitio contingit secundum quod cognitum est in cognos- 
cente, cognitum autem est in cognoscente secundum modum cog- 
noscentis. (St. Thomas: Summa Theologica , "De Cognitione Dei") 

[273] Nihil est in intel lectu nisi prius in sensu. 

[274] Invisibilia Dei, per ea quae facta sunt intellecta con- 
spiciuntur. (Romans 1:20) 

[275] Qui lucem inhabitat inaccessibilem, quern nullus hominum 
vidit, sed nee videre potest. (1 Timothy 6:16) 

[276] Videmus nunc per speculum in aenigmate, tunc autem facie 
ad faciem. (1 Corinthians 13:12) 

[277] Si quis diligit me, diligetur a Patre et ego diligam eum 
et manifestabo illi meipsum. (John 2) 


and His justice. [278] "Every soul free from sin, 
says the Council of Florence, "is immediately admitted to 
Heaven and sees God in His Trinity, as He is, according to 
the degree of his merit, one in a more perfect another in 
a less perfect manner. " [279] The Holy Council adds: "This 
vision of God in no way comes from the forces of nature. 
It does not correspond to any desire or any necessity of 
our hearts. 

Set apart from revelation, the human mind could not 
have conceived the slightest suspicion of it, nee in cor 
hominis ascendit - neither hath it entered into the heart 
of man. (1 Corinthians 2:9) Eternal life is the highest 
miracle, the most sublime mystery; it is the flower in 
full bloom or, better still, the fruit of grace, the seed 
and root of which the incarnate Word, by the power of the 
Holy Ghost, has implanted in the centre of humanity; and, 
so that we may attain eternal life, God required to im- 
print a new form in our minds, and superimpose a new 

Let us add in passing that, as the vision of God is 
not connatural to man, its deprivation does not necessar- 
ily bring about sensory pain and the pain of fire. Thus 
children who die without baptism will not be admitted to 
the vision of God: nevertheless, they will enjoy God to a 
certain extent, they will know Him with the aid of the 
light of their reason, and they will love Him tenderly, as 
the author of their being and the dispenser of all good. 
The reason for this doctrine stems from the great prin- 
ciple that man, considered in himself and in the state of 
pure nature, differs from the man degraded by sin as much 
as he who is naked differs from him who has been stripped 
of his honours and prerogatives by a deserved punishment 
and degradation. Consequently every man with the use of 
understanding and freedom is predestined to eternal life, 
and possesses, by this fact, the capacities and means 
needed to reach this sublime reward. If he does not 
obtain it, he will feel immense grief, having through his 
own fault lost the good that should have been his crown of 
glory. But children who die unbaptized do not possess the 
kernel of glory; they have never been able to apprehend 
its price; their minds, unenlightened by baptism, do not 
possess any disposition or aptitude preparing them for the 
vision of supernatural things, any more than animals have 
the capacity to be taught by the light of reason and to 
grasp mathematical and speculative truths. Thus it is 
inconsistent to grant that they will suffer the loss of a 
good to which by nature, they were not destined. These 
children who have died unbaptized will not be separated 
from God completely: they will be united to Him in the 
sense that they will attain their natural end, and will 
see God, as far as it is possible to see Him, through the 
medium of eternal beings, to the extent that He manifests 
Himself in the marvels and harmonies of creation. A 
precious doctrine, which reconciles both divine justice 
and divine goodness, a sweet consolation for Christian 
mothers who mourn their children killed in a natural 
accident without having been reborn by the sacrament of 
the Redemption! 

[278] Ostende faciem tuam et salvi erimus. (Psalm 69) - Ostende 
nobis partem et sufficit nobis. (John 14) 

[279] "Ex decreto unionis." 


Man will see God face to face; but how will this 
vision take place? It is of faith that we shall not see 
Him by representation, by an image formed in our minds. 
It is also of faith that we shall not rise to the know- 
ledge of Him by the aid of reasoning, or by way of demon- 
stration, in the manner whereby we apprehend universal and 
abstract truths rin this world. It is likewise certain 
that we shall not see Him partially and dimly like distant 
objects, of which we cannot discern all the features, but 
which we see only imperfectly and on certain sides. God 
will not be seen^ in this way. He is a single being, not 
made of parts. He is in the blade of- grass and in the 
atom integrally. When we say that He is present in every 
sphere and in all places, our mind leads us astray: God is 
not in any place, but all spheres and places are in Him. 
He does not live in any time, but His eternity consists of 
an indivisible instant, in which all time is contained. 
So we shall see Him as He is in His simplicity, in His 
threefold personality and in the same way as we see the 
face of a man in this world, sicuti est facie ad fac- 
iem. [280] 

This vision will operate by an immediate impression 
of the divine essence in the souls with the aid of a 
supernatural light called the light of glory. Suarez 
defines it thus: "A created quality and a supernatural, 
intellectual capacity, infused into the soul, which will 
give it the aptitude and the power to see God." This 
light of glory will transform man, says St. Dionysius; it 
will deify him by imprinting in him the seal and likeness 
of celestial beauty, and make him the image of the Father; 
it will expand and augment the soul's capacity for know- 
ledge to such an extent that it will become able to appre- 
hend immense and boundless good. Just as, by means of the 
light of the sun, the eye can see the variety of tangible 
things and, so to speak, comprehend the whole extent of 
the universe; just as, aided by the light of reason, it 
knows the reason for its own existence, and the intellect- 
ual truths; so, immersed in the light of glory, it will 
have infinity as its domain, and, in a sense, will compre- 
hend God Himself. Scripture teaches us that the light of 
glory is the light of God: In lumine tuo videbimus lumen. 
By it our souls will be so immersed in the light of the 
divine presence that we may say, with St. Augustine, that, 
in a sense, they will no longer know through their own 
knowledge,, but from the very knowledge of God, and that 
they will no longer see with their so weak and limited 
eyes, but with the very eyes of God: Erit intellectui 
plenitudo lucis. The transports which the divine vision 
will arouse in the elect will make their hearts super- 
abound in the most unutterable joys; it will be a flood of 
delights and raptures, life in it inexhaustible richness 
and the very source of all good and all life. [281] It 
will be, as St. Augustine goes on to say, like a donation 
from God of His own heart, so that we may love and rejoice 
with all the energy of the love and joys of God Himself: 
Erit voluntati plenitudo pacis. 

[280] Qualitas creata et habitus et virtus intel lectualis, 
supernaturalis et per se infusa intellectui, qua redditur 
proxime potens et habilis ad videndum Deum. (Suarez: De_ Deo , 
I, II, chapter XIV.) 

[281] Inebriabuntur ab ubertate domus tuae, et torrente volupta- 
tis tuae potabis nos; quoniam apud te est fons vitae, et in 
lumine tuo videbimus lumen. (Psalm 35:19) 


Eternal life, says St. Paul, is like a weight, like 
being overwhelmed with all delights, intoxications and 
transports: aeternum gloriae pondus ; a weight which, by 
refreshing man rather than annihilating him, will inexhaus 
tibly renew his youth and vigour. It is a source, forever 
fertile, where the soul will drink in abundance of sub- 
stance and life. It is a marriage, in which the soul will 
clasp its Creator in an eternal embrace without ever 
feeling any diminution of the rapture it felt on that day 
when, for the first time, it was united to Him and pressed 
Him to its bosom. 

Even so, the elect who see God will not comprehend 
Him; for the Lateran Council teaches: ""God is incompre- 
hensible to all created beings." We shall see ■ God as He 
is, some more, others less, according to our dispositions 
and merits. Nevertheless, we could not teach theologic- 
ally that the Immaculate Virgin herself, who sees God more 
clearly and perfectly than all the angels and all the 
saints together, can attain an adequate vision and know- 
ledge of God. God is infinite, and all that can be said 
is that the creature sees Him, sees Him as He is, sicuti 
est, entire, in integro , and yet does not see Him, in this 
iiHse that, wFat he succeeds m discovering of His per 
fections is nothing compared with what the eternal Being 
Himself contemplates, in the splendour of His Word and in 
union with the Holy Ghost. If we might be permitted to 
use a crude and incomplete image - for it must be remember- 
ed that every comparison taken from tangible things loses 
all proportion and analogy when it is applied to the realm 
of uncreated life - we would say that, in comparison with 
God, the elect are like a traveller standing on the banks 
of the ocean. The traveller knows that it is the ocean, 
with his own eyes, he sees the ocean extend and unfold in 
the immensity, and he says: I have seen the ocean. Never- 
theless there are reefs and distant islands which he does 
not discern, and his gaze has not encompassed all the 
river-banks and all the contours of the ocean. Accord- 
inqly, contemplation of God will not mean immobility but, 
above all, activity, an ever-ascending progression, where 
movement and repose will be bound together in ineffable 

In order the better to understand this, let us imag- 
ine a scholar who has been given wings by nature; he would 
have the power of traversing all the regions of the stars 
and the firmament; he would be enabled to explore all the 
hidden marvels in the countless groups of constellations, 
and this scholar would go from one sphere to another, from 
one planet to the next. As he advanced further into the 
immensity, he would meet one surprise after another, 
thrill upon thrill, seeing richer spectacles appear cease- 
lessly, opening up vaster and more radiant horizons to his 
qaze. However, a moment would come when he reached the 
limits. But infinity has no limits, no bottom or shore. 
The happy mariners of that fortunate abode will never cry, 
like Christopher Columbus: Land! Land! They will say: 
God, God always, God yet more. There will forever be new 
perfections, which they will seek to gain; forever purer 
and more intoxicating delights which they will aspire to 
taste. They will go from glory to glory, ]oy to joy; for, 
as St. Gregory of Nyssa says, "The infinite Good has no 
limits, the desire which He arouses is immeasurable. [28^J 

[282] St. Gregory of Nyssa: De Vita Moriastica, 



The vision and knowledge of God are sufficient for 
the fullness and perfection of man's happiness; the know- 
ledge he will have of contingent being, and of visible, 
eternal nature is the accompaniment and accidental part of 
his happiness. 

St. Thomas explains this truth to us with his in- 
comparable, argumentative vigour: 

"All knowledge," he says, "by which the created 
spirit is perfected, is ordained to the knowledge of God 
as its end. Hence it follows that he who sees the essence 
of God has his spirit raised to the highest perfection, 
and does not become more perfect by seeing objects which 
are not God; unless, however, the objects contribute to 
make him see God more fully. On the same subject, St. 
Augustine says, in Book V of his Confessions ; 'Unhappy is 
the man who knows all created things and Fs ignorant of 
You, Supreme Truth. Happy, by contrast, he who knows 
You, even if he should know nothing of any created thing. 
He who knows both You and every being in the universe is 
not thereby happier; but he is happy, solely because he 
knows You. •" [283] 

Nevertheless, the sight of the divine essence will 
not engross the saints so much as to make them forget the 
external marvels of the visible world, or prevent their 
relationship with the other elect. In this life, when we 
concentrate one of our faculties upon an object, our other 
faculties are left weak and inactive; but the vision of 
God, far from paralyzing the exercise of our intellectual 
and sensitive' powers, will increase a hundredfold their 
energy and penetration. Thus God made man saw clearly the 
divine essence, and yet conversed familiarly with men, sat 
at their table and freely adopted all the habits of ord- 
inary life. The angels, confirmed in grace, enjoy perfect 
bliss, and unceasingly see the face of their Father Who is 
in heaven. Nevertheless, they dispose and co-ordinate the 
material elements, preside over the movement of the stars, 
and are not distracted from the presence of God when they 
lend us their assistance during our pilgrimage, or when 
they enlighten us with their inspirations. [284] 

Furthermore, it is of faith that there is no percept- 
ible space of time between the moment of death and that of 
the fulfilment of the judgment, and the very second when 
the just soul is freed from the ties of his body, he is 
admitted into the heavenly reward, .just as, at the same 
moment, the damned soul is led to the place of his eternal 
torments. [285] 

[283] Omnis autem cognitio qua intellectus creatus perficitur, 
ordinatur sicut ad finem ad Dei cognitionem; unde videns Deura 
per essentiam, etiam si nihil aliud cognosceret, perfectum 
intellectual haberet; nee est perfectior ex hoc quod aliquis 
aliud cum ipso cognoscat nisi quatenus ipsum plenius videt, 
unde Augustinus in suis Confessionibus (5) : Infelix homo, qui 
scit ilia omnia (scilicet creata) , te autem nescit; beatus 
autem qui te scit, etiam si ilia nesciat. Qui vero te et ilia 
novit, non propter ilia beatior, sed propter te solum beatus 
est. (St. Thomas: Summa Theologica , Supplement, Q.92, A. 3. 

[284] Fr. Blot: Au Ciel On Se Reconnait . 

[285] Et in puncto ad inferna descendunt. (Job 21:13) Benedictus 
XII statuit: Homines pios, plene purgatos vel justos ex hac 
vita decedentes statim assequi beatitudinem et visione Dei 
beatifica perfrui. (Benedictus Deus) 


Imagine now a man whose inward eye, thoroughly clean- 
sed bv divine grace, has never let itself be sullied by 
3S poisonef bLath' of any passion This man n*yhave 
been only an illiterate, uneducated villager, for whom the 
humble instruction he received obediently from the Church 
sufficed. He closes his corporeal eyes upon the murky 
Sght of this earth and, like a captive who on coming out 
of the dark kingdom of shadows, saw, for the first time 
?he golden rays of the daylight star, this man, freed from 
the ties of his body, is inundated in a strange, dazzling 
light^he is laid on the threshold of all science and 
every splendour. All those imperfect images which pre- 
vented him from contemplating the truth ^^"^^Z 
sumed in the fire of the divine light. The holy obscur 
ities of faith vanish: Heaven, nature and God are enigmas 
no longer for this king of glory. In the twinkling of an 
eye, he comprehends both the entirety and every detail of 
Sis palace of creation, now his inheritance and domain; 
with a single glance, he takes in its immensity. He 
fathoms the properties, secrets and innermost forces of 
the elements? w^th a single turn of his thoughts he 
visits those huge globes in the firmament, which are so 
distant that they escape our knowledge ^calculation^ 
The tree of knowledge displays the rich collection of its 
fruits before him, he feeds and quenches his thirst from 
this ever- luxuriant fountain. He no longer feels any 
thirst for knowledge, and for him there is no more ^ight, 
no more doubt, no more curiosity or searching. Oh! with 
what envy will the wise men of this world who spend their 
time devising futile theories and forget God for the sake 
of indulging in speculation and useless research, then 
regard the just man who loved God and set his heart on 
true wisdom! 

The smallest reflection of his knowledge will throw 
into the shade all the discoveries and all the conquests 
of humanity since the beginning of time. 

In this life we would succumb beneath such an abun- 
dant flow of light; the economy of our constitution would 
be destroyed and our vital functions suspended. 

Yet this knowledge of created being is less than a 
drop of water in comparison with a science of a superior 
order The spirits of the elect enter into contact with 
the world of Spirits; they see the beauty of the blessed 
souls, illuminated by the divine likeness, adorned with 
charity and its attendant virtues, as with a nuptial robe, 
they L the cherubim, inflamed with their ardent love, 
the principalities and the dominations with their 
strength, and the seraphim, arrayed with immaterial wings 
with which they veil themselves in the presence of the 
- majesty of the Lamb; unaided by sounds and audible words, 
they engage in ineffable ^conversation with them. Their 
luminous, subtle and impassible bodies offer no obstacle 
to the activity of the intellect and the exercise of their 
faculties. [286] 

r286fPure spirits have a language which, although not audible 
or corporeaf, is nonetheless quite intelligible; it-occurs when 
an act of their will directs their thought towards him to whom 

ey wish to make it known. Thus, they can -spe ak -to . one _ 
without speaking to others, and without being heard or under- 
stood by Si .Angelic language seems to be quite simply trans- 
mission of a thought, by an act of will, towards some other 
spiri?? who ?hen alone' has knowledge of it. (Petau: De Ancjelis, 
book 1, chapter XII, nos.7 and 11) 


Then we shall understand You, hidden mystery of the 
Incarnation; and we shall see clearly how the divine nat- 
ure, substantially united to human nature in the person of 
the Word, has crowned the latter with the fullness of its 
prerogatives and splendours, and exalted Him above all the 
angels and hierarchies. Then , Virgin Mary, your august 
Motherhood will no longer be incomprehensible to us, and, 
together with the choirs of angels, we shall proclaim you 
blessed, and render thanks for the treasures of sanctifi-^ 
cation of your Immaculate Heart. 

How sweet it will be to contemplate at a single 
glance all the marvels of the Most High God in the realm 
of nature as well as in the order of grace and glory 1 
Then will it be that the elect, in their raptures, will 
unite in song and cry out in chorus : How wonderful Thou 
art in Thy works, my God! Now, the universe has become 
a temple, where the excellence and sublimity of Thy Name 
are traced out in imposing and indelible characters. 
Benediction, honour, wisdom and strength to our God, for 
ever and ever! 

Heaven is the repose of man's intellect, the repose 
of his will and affections. 

We shall love God, we said, with that love which He 
has for Himself. Yet, what often appals us in this life, 
what makes us reject Heaven with a sort of repugnance and 
anguish, is that we imagine that in that abode all the 
natural attachments of our heart will be, as it were, 
annihilated and invincibly extinguished by the conquering 
exuberance of the love in which we shall be enflamed for 
the Creator. Oh! the whole of Christianity protests 
against this error. How could the religion of Jesus 
Christ, which condemns so severely our thanklessness, 
selfishness and insensitivity, set the extinction of all 
noble and lawful friendships as the condition of our 
heavenly awards? How could the natural love of husband 
and wife, father and son, to which God obliges us in this 
life, be excluded from the constituents of our eternal 
crown? Will that Church of Heaven, wherein all our feel- 
ings will be purified and all our natural tendencies and 
aspirations will be raised to the most superhuman degree 
of perfection, be founded upon the ruin of all the ties of 
the heart, all our memories and family relationships? God 

What we teach as certain is that in Heaven we shall 
see and recognize one another. Such is the testimony and 
the constant voice of tradition. In Africa St. Cyprian, 
who was born in heathendom and, after his conversion, 
raised to the see of Carthage, feeling that he was des- 
tined to die a martyr, exhorted the faithful to face death 
undaunted like him, and spoke to them of it as a gift and 
a blessing _ from Heaven. "Let us then hasten," he said, 
"and run to* see our fatherland, and greet our brethren, 
for we are awaited by a large number of people who are 
dear to us; we are desired by a multitude of relatives, 
brothers and children, who, assured henceforth of their 
immortality, are still solicitous for our salvation. Let 
us go to see them, let us go to embrace them. . . And what 
joy for all of us, for them and for me!" Among the Greeks 
at Constantinople, St. Theodore of Studium, an illustrious 
confessor of the Faith, often consoled bereaved families. 
He wrote to a father whose sons were all dead: "Your 
children are not lost, but remain safe and sound for you 
and as soon as you have reached the end of this temporal 
life you will see them again, full of joy and gladness." 
He wrote to a man who had just lost his wife: "You have 
sent a most worthy spouse before you, into the presence of 


God. What should you seek now? You should try to meet 
her again in Heaven, at the time desired by P rov ^ence. . . 
"Without doubt, in Heaven the spouses who have come from 
earth will themselves be like angels, and will n ,° ^J r 
aspire to the delights of the senses. "U 8 ?! H °^!t' 
they will taste the ever-pure pleasures of the spirit, 
and, as they were one in flesh during their earthly exile, 
so in glory they will form one single heart and soul, in 
the delights of another union which will have no 
end." [288] 

In Heaven, we shall see and recognize one another; 
and we shall love one another. 

It is true that, in this happy abode, faith will 
disappear amidst the splendour of the great realities; 
that the inhabitants of the celestial Jerusalem, in poss- 
ession of their final end, will no longer require to be 
sustained by the wings of hope. But charity, in its full 
development, will shine forth like a great queen, in its 
power and in all its perfection. [289] All the objects and 
causes which captivate our hearts and arouse love in this 
world will act with an intensity a thousand times greater, 
and without encountering any obstacle, on the hearts of 
the elect. Thus, in this life, our hearts are fascinated 
by beauty, by outstanding qualities of mind and heart; the 
intensity of the feeling which urges us to unite ourselves 
with a beloved one lessens when we discover his defects 
and faults. In Heaven, however, we shall find our friends 
spotless, and their features will be more radiant than the 
clearest sky; they will be endowed with a gracefulness and 
charm which will perforce attract our hearts for ever. In 
this life, love is still the consequence of gratitude, and 
our hearts glow at the memory of benefits and servxces 
rendered. It is only in Heaven that we shall recognize 
the extent and the cost of the graces of every kind which 
our benefactors have showered upon us. Then the £"^1. 
will read all the treasures of grace, solicitude and tender- 
ness enclosed in the heart of his mother. He will know 
that, next to God, it was the tears, prayers and sighs erf 
that mother which brought about his salvation. mother, 
he will exclaim, "I used to love you because Y ou 9^"^ 
an earthly life, and provided for my food and my childhood 
needs; now I love you a thousand times more tenderly, 
because of the eternal life which I have received, and 
without which the first would have been a fatal gift, a 
source of calamities and torture for me." new and happy 
Monicas, how great your triumphs and joys will be, when 
vou see yourselves surrounded by a whole circle of 
children whose glory you have secured after having brought 
them into existence! Then, Christian fathers, your sacri- 
fices, courage and heroic constancy m strengthening your 
sons by profitable examples, and in rearing them by noble, 
laborious training, will no longer be unknown. Then, 

[287] In resurrectione enim neque nubent, neque nubentur, sed 
erunt sicut angeli Dei. (Matthew 22:30) 

[288] Rev. Fr. Blot: An £j_el On Se Reconnait (Fourth letter). 

[289] Charitas numquam excidit. (1 Corrinthians 13:8) Nunc autem 
manent fides, spes, charitas, tria haec, major autem horum est 
charitas. (1 Corinthians 13:13) 


O friend, the story will be told of your zeal, your pious 
artifices to detach a friend from vice and irreligion, and 
to catch unawares a soul, the object of your holy yearning, 
by means of innocuous allurements. Then we shall bless 
you, we shall rekindle the vividness of our memories with 
outpourings of love, we shall redeem -the debt of our 
hearts in eternal thanksgiving. Lastly, the love aroused^ 
in our hearts by the memory of favours received, or the 
congenial attraction of natural qualities, is usually 
sustained and renewed by familiarity and the mutual ex- 
change of impressions and thoughts. How, then, shall I 
describe the ineffable intercourse in which the elect will 
open their hearts to one another, that fraternal, intimate 
conversation in which, at every moment, in their celestial 
language they will convey to each other the captivating 
emotions of their hearts? In this life, when we hear the 
conversation of superior minds which have been matured and 
trained by experience and deep reflection, we lose the 
sense of time under the spell and fascination of their 
words. We sit in front of the fire during the long winter 
evenings, with the snow falling and the wind blowing and 
roaring, and listen expectantly and with rapt, unflagging 
attention to the seaman back from distant shores, or the 
warrior who tells us about the perils of a long siege and 
the thousand pictures of death which he encountered amidst 
the fortunes of war. How much greater will be our fascin- 
ation, as we sit at the great hearth of our heavenly 
Father, listening while our brothers tell us the story of 
their seductive and manifold temptations and of the assaults 
waged by Hell over which they triumphed. We shall not 
tire of hearing about those victories won in the sight of 
God alone, more glorious than those of conquerors; those 
battles waged in silence against the failings of the flesh 
and the turmoil of one's own thoughts. We shall admire- 
their efforts and their heroic generosity. We shall know 
about the twists and turns and uncertainties whereby the 
grace of the Spirit of God, through a strong but gentle 
impulse, led them to the harbour of repose, and turned 
even their deviations and falls to account, in the edi- 
fication of their incorruptible crown. Ah! These will be 
inexhaustible subjects of conversation, which will never 
lose their interest and fascination. [290] 

[29 0] Will the damnation of a multitude of souls, once united to 
the elect by friendship or blood, not cloud the joys of their 
oliss? Or else must we say that the souls, consumed with 
charity, will hate the reprobate with an everlasting hatred? 
Let us listen to the doctrine of St. Thomas on this point: "It 
is possible," he says, "to rejoice at a thing in two ways: to 
rejoice at the thing absolutely and inasmuch as it is con- 
sidered in itself. Now the elect will not rejoice at the 
sufferings of the damned in that way. But it is also possible 
to rejoice at the same thing by reason of its accompanying 
circumstances. From this point of view the elect will rejoice 
at the pains of the reprobate, in consideration of the order 
and effects of God's justice in them; and, at the same time, 
they will rejoice at having themselves been spared the punish- 
ments of hell." (St. Thomas: Summa Theologica , Supplement, 
Q.94, A. 3) Furthermore, is not God's love infinitely perfect? 
He too, then, should be unhappy at the sight of the damned. 
So, is the knowledge that the demons will be eternally unhappy 
something that can be expected to dampen the joy of a St. Paul, 
a St. John or a St. Theresa? 


It is true that the glory and bliss of the elect will 
be apportioned according to their merit, and that they 
will differ in beauty and greatness as the stars in the 
sky are themselves different in size and brightness. [291] 
Nevertheless, union, peace and concord will not reign any 
the less among this countless array, in which the lesser 
ranks co-operate with the highest in the repose and har- 
mony of all. The elect will form but one heart among 
themselves. Their one link will no longer be force or 
self-interest, but charity. Forming a single body, the 
head of which is Jesus Christ, and having become living 
stones of the one building, they will all share in the 
conquest with the same joy and the same *love. Each will 
be rich in the richness of all, each will thrill in the 
happiness of all. Just as the creation of a new sun would 
double the fires which burn the air, so each new sun in 
the city of God will increase the measure of our own 
bliss, with all its happiness and glory. Again, just as 
mirrors, placed opposite one another, are not impoverished 
by the mutual reflection of their rays, but, rather, the 
images are multiplied and each of the mirrors reflects, in 
its own ambit, the light and the objects portrayed in the 
ambit of all - so, in the same way each of the elect will 
reflect the rays of his brightness upon all the others. 
The apostle will reflect upon the angel the grace of 
preaching which he received, and the angel will reflect 
upon the apostle his knowledge and the treasures of his 
keener insights. The prophet will reflect the grace 
of his visions upon the martyr, and the martyr will crown 
the prophet with his palms and trophies. The immaculate 
beauty and grace of the virgin will be reflected on the 
faces of the penitent and the anchorite ravaged and wasted 
by fasts and macerations, and the converted sinner will 
manifest more strikingly the merit and prerogatives of 
innocence preserved in its integrity. 

There will no longer be any place for rivalry or 
envy. Each of the elect will receive the complement of 
his personal good from the good of his brethren. We shall 
read their souls as clearly as our own. On this point, 
St. Augustine exclaims: "0 happy Heaven, where there will 
be as many paradises as citizens, where glory will come to 
us by as many channels as there are hearts to show us 
their concern and affection, where we shall possess as 
many kingdoms as there are monarchs sharing in our re- 
wards. Quot socii, tot gaudia!" 

Such are the joys of Heaven. Let us say that they 
are pure joys. In Heaven, sin is for ever excluded. The 
elect are no longer capable of committing the least shadow 
of a fault or imperfection. In Holy Scripture, eternal 
life is called indefectible, incorruptible - aeterna, 
immarcessibilis, incorruptibile. These terms would be 
incorrect if the saints could fall from grace, and this 
prospect alone would suffice to diminish their happi- 
ness. [292] 

[291] In domo Patris, multae mansiones sunt. (John 14:2) Alia 
.claritas solis, alia claritas lunae, et alia claritas stell- 

arum. Stella enim a stella differt in claritate; sic in resur- 

ectione mortuorum. (1 Corinthians 15:14) 

[292] Firmissime tene et nullatenus dubites, omnem creaturam 
mutabilem a Deo immutabili factam, nee tamen jam posse quem- 
libet. sanctorum in deterius mutari quia sic acceperunt beati- 
tudinem, qua Deo stabiliter fruantur, ut ea carere non possint: 
(Fulgentius: De Fide ad Patrum, no. 64) 


In our mortal condition it seldom happens that our 
purest and holiest joys do not contain a mixture of con- 
ceit and selfish satisfaction. The soul which feels happy 
withdraws into itself for its greater enjoyment: it exper- 
iences a keener and more concentrated sense of life; to a 
qreater or lesser extent, it seeks relaxation from the 
thought of God, by which alone it ought to be possessed 
and filled. For this reason the saints felt a kind of 
anxiety and unease amidst prosperity. They knew that, in 
this life, the most honourable pleasures and the sweetest 
and most lawful joys have always something debilitating 
and corrupting for the Christian soul. However in Heaven, 
the bliss of glory, far from rendering souls more human, 
elevates them and makes them more spiritual. Their aware- 
ness of happiness is not distinct from their awareness of 
God. The harmonies which charm their ears, the lig™ 
which bathe their eyes, the aromas which their enchanted 
nostrils inhale are naught but the power of God rendering 
itself perceptible to their senses. And the effect or 
this multifarious delight is not to induce them, by reflect- 
ion, to withdraw into excessive preoccupation with them- 
selves and the baser perfection of their nature, but 
rather to inspire them to soar upwards with inexhaustible 
enerqy and lose themselves in the ever closer embrace of 
God who imbues them with His fullness through all their 
senses and penetrates every pore of their being. On their 
lips the cry of joy blends with the cry of adoration and 
gratitude. They do not say, like the carnal disciples, 
"It is good for us to be here: bonum est hie nos esse ; 
but exclaim: "Holy, holy, holy is God Almighty." Strange 
to say, Heaven is somehow the opposite of earth! Here 
below, man is restored and bathed anew in dignity and 
moral value through suffering. In Heaven it is the 
reverse: he is perfected and deified by the flood of 
delights wherein he is immersed. 

The joys of Heaven are joys which are pure and lasting, 

Imagine a man on earth, like Solomon whose every wish 
was satisfied. He has fortune, youth and health; his 
heart finds contentment and repose in the presence and 
company of visible creatures whom he loves. All mannner 
of fascinations combine to complete this man's happiness. 
Yet there are times when his soul is plunged in sorrow and 
stricken by fear. He says to himself: My happiness is 
ephemeral. Each day that passes removes a piece of it, 
and soon it will be no more. 

In Heaven, happiness is stable, since the elect, 
confirmed in glory, are beyond all fear. The ages will 
succeed one another without diminishing their happiness, 
and without a single line creasing their brows. The 
certainty of eternally possessing the benefits which they 
hold dear multiplies their sweetness a hundredfold. What 
a source of jubilation when, after thousands of centuries 
have elapsed, they reflect upon the day in the distant 
past when they made their triumphant ascent, and say: 
Nothing is finished yet, I reign today, today I am in 
possession of my happiness, and I shall possess it as long 
as God remains God - for ever and ever! 


The joys of Heaven are continuous, not following one 
the other so that those which have passed are lost. 

The elect in Heaven are no longer prisoners of time. 
Their new life does not slip by in measurable hours. For 
them there is no more past or future; but, living the life 
of God, they are fixed in a perpetual, present. On this 
earth our joys are successive: the pleasures and impress- 
ions that we felt yesterday are not those that we feel 
today. Happiness comes in driblets. It is not given to 
any man to gather together a day's ]oys in an instant, 


much less those of a lifetime. In Heaven, however, God 
does not portion Himself out: He commits Himself complete- 
ly, in the immutable, indivisible simplicity of His ess- 
ence. From the first moment of their incorporation into 
the divine life, the bliss of the saints is perfect and 
consummated. As the future does not diminish it in any 
way, so they do not long for anything from the past. 
Illuminated by the infinite clarity of the word of God, 
they see the events which will be accomplished in a thou- 
sand years as clearly as those which were fulfilled a 
thousand centuries ago. Every moment, says St. Augustine, 
they experience, as it were, a feeling of infinite joy. 
Every moment, as far as it is permitted to created beings, 
-they absorb the power of divine virtue.. Every moment, 
eternity makes them feel the accumulated weight of its 
intoxications, its delights and its glories. Deus totus 
simul delectat, Deus erit memoriae plenitudo aeternitatis. 

One day, St. Augustine was describing the marvels of 
the city of God to his people of Hippo. He did so with a 
voice charged with emotion, with that golden eloquence, 
nurtured at the fount of Scripture, which made it seem 
that an angel was speaking, not an inhabitant of the 
earth. The assembled people were deeply moved and cap- 
tivated, and felt as if transported to those feasts of 
eternity of which such a striking picture was being drawn 
for them, having a kind of vision of that day when the 
Lord would adorn the brows of the faithful with an im- 
perishable laurel. Suddenly, their emotion was so great 
that they broke into groans and cries of wonder, and tears 
flowed from every eye. The respect due to the majesty of 
the sacred precints and the silence imposed by the pres- 
ence of the speaker were forgotten, and each one invoked 
the day when, far from all affliction, he would drink 
abundantly of the waters of truth and life. Each trembled 
lest, overcome by his frailty or led astray by seductions, 
he might be deprived of the blessed vision. From all 
sides of the holy place rang out the words: beautiful 
Heaven, when shall I see you? Shall I be so senseless as 
to prefer the pleasures and fortune of a day to you? Who 
would not consent to purchase you at the price of the 
heaviest sacrifices and labours? Interrupted by these ex- 
clamations and sighs, and surprised at the effect produced 
by his words, Augustine was no less moved than the multi- 
tude. He wanted to proceed, to continue with the portrait 
of the heavenly Jerusalem which he had begun; but the 
sobbing of his listeners and of his own emotion stifled 
his voice; and his tears, mingling with those of his 
people, formed, as it were, a torrent of mourning for the 
sorrows of exile and the remoteness of the beloved father- 

holy pontiff, how I yearn to have the pathos 
of your voice on my lips! golden age of the early 
Church, when the lure of invisible goods and the promises 
of the future life exerted such a lively impression upon 
souls - who will bring you back to us again? If our words 
have not the power to open the fount of tears, may the 
hope and the memory of you, city of God, at least raise 
up our desires; may they restrain our gross aspirations 
and act as a counter-weight to them and to the pull of the 
thousand inferior desires which corrupt us! Ah! we love 
power and glory, we would like to be present and give 
orders everywhere: why, then, turn away from the nobility 
of our destiny and abandon the immortal empire which God 
prepares for us? We love pleasure and joy; we recognize 
that life is unbearable if affections and joys do not 
mitigate its misfortunes and bitterness. Why, then, spurn 
the only real happiness, and desire the source of all 


pleasure and joy to dry up for us along with the present 
life? Let men whose every hope is directed towards the 
things of the earth seek from nature the unlimited do- 
nation of its gifts; let them seek their pleasures and 
glories in the unrestricted perfecting of material things; 
let them consider themselves happy because a thousand 
hands are at work to serve them, and a thousand machines 
and instruments are in operation to interpret and fulfil 
their ideas and whims. ~ "These goods diminish, - says St. 
Gregory the Great, "these objects lose their illusion and 
become contemptible, when we- consider the nature and 
immensity of the rewards that are promised us. Earthly 
goods, measured against the bliss above, no longer seem an 
advantage, but rather a burden and a painful tyranny. 
Temporal life, in comparison "with eternal life, deserves 
not to be called life, but death. "[293] On the other 
hand, to live in the heavenly city, mingled with the 
choirs of angels, to be surrounded by a light which is not 
itself circumscribed, and to possess a spiritual, in- 
corruptible flesh, is not infirmity, but royalty and life 

Ah, if our mind is stirred at the thought of so much 
richness and magnificence, and aspires to fly towards 
those places where happiness has no bounds, let us re- 
member that great rewards are acquired only by great 
combats, and that no one shall be crowned who has not 
fought the good fight. [294] 

Let us, then, rejoice with the prophet at the things 
that have been said to us: I shall go into the house of 
the Lord. Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi, in 
domum Domini ibimus; but may our hearts not become attach- 
ed to the snare of tangible things, and may our feet be 
always standing in the expectation of_your heavenly courts, 
Jerusalem: stantes erant pedes nostri in atriis tuis 
Jerusalem. [295] Jerusalem, which is built as a city, when 
shall we witness your stately ceremonies, when shall we be 
reunited to that corner-stone, which is the foundation, 
the strength and the pivot of our building? Jerusalem 
quae aedificatur ut civitas. Already countless tribes, 
legions of apostles, prophets, martyrs and virgins, just 
men of every state and rank, have crossed the court of 
your domain. How desirable their fate is, for they are 
freed from our temptations, our perplexities and our 
wretchedness! Illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus 
Domini. Seated on thrones which they have themselves 
erected, they have built upon truth and justice. Faithful 
and devoted to their Master unto death, they have deserved 
to share with Him the inheritance of the house of David. 
Quia illic sederunt, sedes in judicio, sedes super domum 
David. This is the sole ambition that we are permitted. 
Everything that is not Jerusalem is unfit for us. Let us 
ask only for the goods and the peace which it contains: 
Rogate quae ad pacem sunt Jerusalem. Let us think only of 
Heaven, let. us seek only Heaven, let us store up only for 

[293] Pope St. Gregory the Great: Homilia 37 in Evangelia . 

[294] Non coronatur nisi qui legitime certaverit. (2 Timothy 2:5) 

[295] Psalm 121:1,2. 


Heaven, and let us live only for Heaven. Propter Domum 
Domini Dei nostri quaesivi bona tibi. A few moments 
longer, arid all that must end will be no more; a few more 
efforts, and we shall be at the close; a few more combats, 
and we shall attain the crown; a few more sacrifices, and 
we shall be in Jerusalem, where love is always new, and 
where there will be no other sacrifice but praise and joy. 
Amen . 



The means of redemption: Christian sacrifice. 

Caro mea vere est cibus, et 
sanguis me us vere est potus. 

For my flesh is meat indeed; 

and my blood is drink indeed. (John 6:56) 

Our heart is an altar. On this altar lies the vic- 
tim: our evil inclinations. The sword destxned to slay 
this victim is the spirit of sacrifice and immolation; the 
sacred fire which must burn night and day on the altar of 
our heart is the love of Jesus Christ; the fruitful, 
invigorating breath which inspires and nourishes this 
sacred fire of love is the Eucharist. 

The Eucharist is a sacrament of the living. As a 
sacrament of the living, it bestows supernatural life and 
sanctifying grace. Apart from this property, which it 
shares with the other sacraments, the Eucharist has a 
special virtue of its own, expressed in the words of 
Christ, "My flesh is meat indeed; and My blood is drink 
indeed," words which the Council of Trent explains thus : 
"All the effects which food produces materially in our 
bodies, the Eucharist produces spiritually in our souls. 
Thus, food strengthens our bodies and, up to a given age, 
makes them grow; the Eucharist gives strength against 
temptations, and makes the soul grow in virtue and jus- 
tice. The richer the material food, and the more dis- 
criminating the palate and the sense of taste, the more 
delicious it is; the purer the heart, and the better 
prepared the mind, the sweeter the Eucharist. It is 
through the Eucharist that the God of glory inaugurates 
His bliss in the midst of our wretchedness; it is the 
source of all fidelity, greatness and holiness. 

The Eucharist has a double foundation. It is, first 
of all, one of the seven sacraments of the New Law, in 
which Jesus Christ, present under the species of bread and 
wine, is offered for our adoration and offers Himself as 
food. It Is, in addition, a sacrifice, in which the 
spotless Lamb renews the memory of His passion and death 
and is truly immolated. As this conference is linked to 
the preceding ones, we shall deal with the Eucharist only 
insofar as it constitutes the sacrifice of the New Law. 

In order, from this point of view, to set out the 
true nature • of the eucharistic oblation, its excellence 
and efficacity, it is essential to define sacrifice in 
general, and to explain what it really is. 

Sacrifice is a solemn, public act, the purpose of 
which is to honour the being of God. 


St. Thomas defines sacrifice as an external, public 
and solemn action, performed through the ministry of a 
specially selected man, with the object of offering to the 
Most High God something animate or material, but in such 
a way that this thing, destroyed and transformed, is set 
apart for the worship and honour of God. [296] 

It follows from this definition, first, that sacri- 
fice is the essence, the central point, of worship, and 
the appropriate expression of the relationship between God 
and man. On this account sacrifice is offered in the name 
of the whole people. It is in no way a private act which 
any individual can perform as he pleases; "it can be offer- 
ed only by men specially chosen and consecrated, either 
because these men have received investiture directly and 
immediately from God, or because the lawful leaders of 
religious and civil society have appointed them for this 
purpose. [297] Nee quisquam sumit sibi honorem, sed qui 
vocatur a Deo tamquam Aaron - Nor does anyone assume 
honour to himself but he who is called by God like Aaron. 
Elsewhere, St. Paul says: "Omnis Pontifex, ex hominibus 
assumptus, pro hominibus constituitur in iis quae sunt ad 
Deum - In relation to the things of God, every high priest 
raised up from among men is placed in that position on 
behalf of men." Thus, under the law of nature the head of 
the family was pontiff and king; under the Mosaic law the 
tribe of Aaron alone had the right to celebrate at the 
altar; under the law of grace none but validly ordained 
bishops and priests may celebrate and consecrate the body 
of Jesus Christ. 

Secondly, sacrifice consists in the oblation of an 
external, tangible and permanent thing. 

Hence the offering which man makes to God of his 
desires and affections, the rites and ceremonies, such as 
prostrations and expiatory acts, observed in diverse 
religions, are called sacrifices only by analogy and 
extension. For sacrifice to take place, the object offer- 
ed must be destroyed, or, at least, it must undergo a 
change or modification, which makes it inapt for any 
profane use and assigns it solely to the honour and wor- 
ship of God. 

It follows that this destruction or modification, 
which constitutes the very essence of sacrifice, could not 
be applied to the interior or exterior acts of man, which 
are of their nature accidental and transitory. It is 
essential that the matter of sacrifice should be something 
extraneous to man and subsisting in itself, for sacrifice 
is based upon the principle of substitution. In ancient 
times, if man offered an animal in place of himself, this 
animal was killed; if it was flour or bread, the flour and 
bread were cooked and consumed; if it was a liquids the 
liquid was poured out as a libation. 

[296] Sacrificium proprie dictum est externa et sensibilis. 
actio, qua res aliqua ita Deo offertur, ut legitimo ac solemni 
ritu in Dei honorem et cultum aliquo modo immutetur a publico 
et legitimo ministro. (Suarez: Quaestio LXXXIII) - 

[297] Solum illud est proprie legitimum sacrificium quod publica 
vel privata auctoritate institutum est. Quia ut homines in 
unum corpus reipublicae debito modo congregentur, necesse est 
ut etiam in unum nomen religionis conveniant; id autem fieri 
non potest, nisi in usu sacrif iciorum etiam conveniant, sed 
neque id fieri potest, nisi ilia sint publica, et communi 
autoritate instituta. (Suarez: id., p. 640) 


Thirdly, it follows from St. Thomas's definition that 
sacrifice has this in common with the sacrament, that, 
like the latter, it is an external and visible sign, 
intended to express and effect a sacred thing. Yet it 
differs from the sacrament in this sense, that the sac- 
rament has as its immediate effect the sanctif ication of 
man and the transmission of certain graces or supernatural 
aptitudes, following a given order, whereas sacrifice has 
as its immediate object the honour due to the divine 
majesty, and the acknowledgement of His -infinite sover- _- 

Man, formed of a body and soul, is bound to honour 
God by rendering Him homage for all his external goods. 
Thus, at all times and in all places, men have felt unable 
to render God a more expressive and forceful sign of their 
adoration and gratitude than by destroying or modifying, 
for the sake of His glory, one of the rarest and most 
useful objects in their lives. They have constantly had 
recourse to this means in order to show the Most High God 
that they were subject to His power, and that they recog- 
nized Him as the absolute Author of life and death. 

For this reason it was ordained in the Old Testament 
that the sacrificing priest should extend and cross his 
hands over the victim before striking it. The purpose of 
this ceremony was to show that, not having the right to 
destroy himself, man identified himself with the victim 
and, insofar as it lay in his power, destroyed himself, 
not in reality, but by way of representation and image. 
Hence he fed on the flesh of the victim in order to ex- 
press the wish that the sacrifice might become inherent 
and in some way embodied in him; for as St. Thomas says: 
"Exterius sacrificium signum est interioris sacrificn - 
Exterior sacrifice is the sign of interior sacrifice. 

From these considerations it follows that sacrifice, 
taken in itself, includes a cult of adoration and latria, 
and can be offered only to the one, supreme God. 

It is a fact worthy of note that, in the days of 
paganism and amongst idolatrous peoples, the devils have 
constantly shown an appetite for sacrifices, convinced 
that by having such honours paid to them they were con- 
ferring upon themselves, by this very fact, the rank and 
honours due to the true God. Daemones enim, non cadaver- 
inis nidoribus, sed divinis honoribus gaudent - For it is 
not the smell of burning corpses but the divine honours 
associated with them that makes the demons rejoice. " [298] 

Without sacrifice man cannot honour God as he ought; 
there is no more powerful means of obtaining His mercy, 
mitigating His justice and giving prayer its full effic- 

In the Old Law sacrifices had only an imperfect, 
figurative value. 

Indeed, what could the offering of rams and heifers 
have been worth, in the sight of the Master of all things? 
And even had the most High God deigned to accept sacri- 
fices so unworthy of His glory, what hands would have been 
pure enough to offer them to Him? That is why the Prophet 
said: "Sacrificium et oblationem noluisti - Sacrifice and 
oblation thou didst not desire" and elsewhere: "Holo- 
caustis non delectaberis - With burnt offerings thou wilt 
not be delighted. "[299] 

[298] St. Augustine: 10, De Civitate Dei , cap. XIX. 
[299] Psalm 39:7 and Psalm 50:18. 


Thus, once the sacrifice of the Cross - that oblat- 
ion, infinite in itself and more than superabundant in its 
application and its effects - had been offered on Calvary, 
blood-sacrifices immediately ceased over the whole surface 
of the earth. They are not found either amongst the Jews 
or the Mohammedans. They are no longer practised, except 
by peoples beyond the pale of civilization and history. A 
priest who appeared in our times with a knife in his hand 
and exuding the smell of immolated meats would provoke 
laughter and disgust. 

The Eucharist is a perfect sacrifice. In it are 
manifested strikingly all the attributes of God: His 
wisdom, His omnipotence and His mercy. The Eucharist is 
salutary in its fruits: for how could every virtue not 
spring forth from the wounds of the Man-God, and from the 
chalice of His blood? It is worthy of the sovereign 
majesty: it is, in fact, the very person of the Word, who 
annihilates Himself in order to give to His Father a glory 
proportionate to His sovereign perfection. The Eucharist 
fulfils all the conditions necessary for a perfect, con- 
summated sacrifice. 

There is, first, a principal priest, who is Jesus 
Christ; the secondary priest is the minister specially 
consecrated for this purpose. There is a victim offered, 
who is, again, none other than Jesus Christ, hidden under 
the species of bread and wine. There is the most High 
God, to Whom this victim is offered. In truth the oblat- 
ion is offered equally to Jesus Christ, not only as God, 
but also as man. Jesus Christ is a victim, offered and 
immolated, according to the words of St. Andrew: "Immac- 
ulatum agnum quotidie in altari sacrifico - I sacrifice 
the divine Lamb on the altar each day." In the Eucharist 
there is a subject , for whose benefit the victim is offer- 
ed; this subject is the Church and the faithful, "qui pro 
vobis et pro multis effundetur." As St Thomas observes, 
the excellence of the sacrifice is superior to that of the 
sacrament. The sacrament benefits only the person to whom 
it is administered; the sacrifice is salutary to all. 
Lastly, at Mass there is an altar: "Quid est altare, nisi 
sedes corporis et sanguinis Domini. " [300] The sacrificial 
act and the sense of the mystery are efficaciously expres- 
sed by the offering, the consecration and the consumption 
of the sacred species. Let us add that it is part of the 
excellence and dignity of the sacrifice that man offers to 
God the best of what he has. Abel offered his first- 
fruits; the Patriarchs spotless lambs and heifers. Now, 
what is better than Him by whom all things were done, and 
Who is Himself the author and source of all good? 

How ardent our piety and our transports of love and 
gratitude would have been, if we had been present at the 
Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ - if, in the company of 
St. John and the holy women, it had been given to us to 
gaze upon the wounds of the Man-God and receive the first- 
fruits of that divine blood, offered for our redemption! 

Now, the Council of Trent says that the sacrifice of 
the Mass has the same value as the sacrifice of the Cross: 
"Tantum valet sacrificium missae, quantum oblatio Christi 
in cruce. " It is the same priest who offers, the same 
victim who is offered and the same immolation that is 
renewed. "In divino sacrificio, quod in missa peragitur, 
idem ille Christus continetur et incruente immolatur - In 
the divine sacrifice performed in the Mass, the self-same 
Christ is present and is immolated in a bloodless 
manner." [301] 

[300] S. Optatus liber VI, Contra Parmenianum 
[301] Council of Trent: session 22, Chapter 11. 


First, at the altar and at the Cross it is the same 
priest who offers. The sacred ministers who appear 
clothed in priestly garments are only the delegates and 
ministers of Jesus Christ, the principal and eternal 
priest, according to the order of Melchisedech. [302] 

In other words we have, at the altar, a represent- 
ative function; we assume the person of "Jesus Christ, and 
we assume it in many ways, multifarium et multis modis, in 
our vestments, in the mysteries that we enact, and in the 
words that we utter. [303] 

At Mass, we come out of the sacristy wearing on our 
shoulders that mysterious chasuble, the image of the Cross 
which Our Lord Jesus Christ bore upon His own shoulders. 
The alb which covers us represents the white robe in which 
the Son of God was mocked at the court of Herod, but which 
His innocence transformed into a garment of dazzling 
brightness. We carry, hanging from our arms, that maniple 
of tears, intended to wipe away the sweat from our fore- 
heads and restore us from our failings. After bowing, we 
ascend the steps of the altar, as Our Lord Jesus Christ 
climbed the steps of Golgotha. We raise our hands, when 
we say "oremus", as Jesus Christ prayed, with His hands 
raised towards His Father. At the Canon we speak in a low 
voice, like Jesus Christ Who, in the Garden of Olives, 
moved a stone's throw away from His disciples, in order to 
enter into the silence of recollection and prayer. At the 
Elevation we take the Host in our hands, just as Jesus 
Christ, at the Last Supper, took the bread and wine into 
His holy and venerable hands. Then our words cease, our 
personality disappears, and the voice of Jesus Christ 
replaces that of His minister. It is no longer we who 
speak, no longer we who live: the body of the priest has 
become the very body of God. Leaning over the Host, we do 
not say "This is the body of Jesus Christ, this the blood 
of Jesus Christ," but "This is my body, this is my blood." 

"A great mystery and a sublime dignity is that of the 
priest, to whom is given a power which the angels do not 
have. Priests alone, properly ordained, have the power to 
celebrate and consecrate the body of Jesus Christ. " [304] 

"Priests of the Lord," exclaimed St. John Chrysostom 
"the greatest things among men seem to me shorn of all 
glory, when I consider that which you have received. Your 
ministry, it is true, is performed among men; but it ranks 
among the celestial hierarchies, for the Paraclete is the 
Author of the mysteries which you accomplish; you are great- 

[302] Non sunt veluti principales sacerdotes per se offerentes, 
sed sunt ministri et instrumenta Christi qui est principalis et 
aeternus sacerdos* secundum ordinem Melchisedech. (Suarez : 
Disputationes LXXXVI) 

[303] At the altar, the priest who offers is Jesus Christ. It 
does not follow that the officiating priests are merely mech- 
anical, inferior agents; they offer authentically, by them- 
selves, not as instruments, but as instrumental causes. 

[3 04] Grande mysterium et magna dignitas sacerdotum, quibus 
datum est quod non est angelis concessum: soli sacerdotes in 
Ecclesia rite ordinati, habent potestatem celebrandi et corpus 
Christi consecrandi. (Thomas a Kempis: Imitation of Christ : 
book 4 . ) 


er than the prophet Elias; you bear in your hands, not 
fTre, but the Holy Ghost, beseeching Him to pour ^th "is 

races upon all the faithful." "Priests of the Lord, he 
adds, "there can be no doubt but that you are greater than 
kings. The king commands subjects; you command God. The 
judgements of the king affect only the things of time 
your pronouncements will stand through all eternity. You 
Save no need of the bounty and riches of ^ king, but the 
kina needs your blessings and prayers. There can oe no 
doubt that you are greater than the Thaumaturges: the 
T^maturges y Sork miracles on the elements, you work them 
on souls. The Thaumaturges operate transformations in 
matter; you transform the bread and wine every day into 
the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt 
bu? that, in a sense, you are greater thar > the : Virgin Mary 
Woolf m hp virain Mary, by her assent, brought aoour 
the incarnation o'f the Word? she uttered that blessed 

•fiat', which made the Son of God descend into her immac- 
ulate womb. That fiat she pronounced only once; you 
pronounce it every day.. Mary ^egoWesuB ^xs^ to a 
mortal life; you beget Him to a lxfe «h ch lasts t hrough 
out history. Mary was obeyed by Jesus Christ in bib 
passible state; you are obeyed by Jesus Christ impassible 

and glorious. " 

Politics, philosophy and science have tried many 
times but they have never been able to create a priest. 
AtXe time of toe Great Revolution [the French Revolution 
of 17 89] 7 the same men who had defied reason ^ attempted 
?o replace the Sunday rest by. the legal rest of the "decadi 
also tried to create a humanitarian priesthood, a priest 
SiS Sitsted of every lustre and trace of divinity. An 
olriciaTde^egate of toe civil power clothed himself in a 
Shite robe; he girded the sash of three colours around his 
loins and moved up to the foot of an altar, dedicated to 
nature to offer a bunch of flowers, the symbol of patnot- 
TsTllk hop^he succumbed beneath the , weight °f ridicule 
and scorn- he did not have the seal of God, that divine 
ray Sat cast of features, something indefinable, which 
God' alone can give to man, and which no royal appointment 
o? any kind of lay selection will ever succeed m bestow- 
ing upon him. 

It is a noteworthy fact that wherever the eucharistic 
sacrifice disappears there is no priest. The Protestants 
have found this? The day when they drove Christ from the 
tSernwles, where He lies in sacrifice and in goodness 
their priests vanished immediately; they had thenceforth 
only ministers, teachers of morality, police of fleers 
t he department of religious affairs, and, as Count de 
MaistrThas wittily said", men clad in black, mounting the 
pulpit every Sunday, to make decorous speeches. 

Such is the reason for the unrelenting hatred of the 
wicked towards the priest. It is written in the Apoc- 
alyple: "An"d the dragon stood before the woman who was 
riady to be delivered, that, when she should be delivered 
Ee mW devour her son." [305] Now the mar ' f ° ^ ers 
Jesus Christ is the priest - parturiente lingua, in the 

[305] Et draco stetit ante mulierem quae erat paritura, ut cum 
peperisset, f ilium ejus devoraret. (Apocalypse 12:4) 


beautiful expression of St. Ambrose. The sure means of 
suppressing Jesus Christ as far as possible, and of utter- 
ly destroying His reign here below, is to get rid of the 
priest, or at the very least empty his heart of faith, 
innocence and the Christian virtues. Lately, speaking of 
the priest, one of the leaders of contemporary impiety 
said: "Let us not put him to death - he would acquire new 
strength- in blood; martyrdom would be for him the seed of 
a new fecundity and a super-human strength. Let us suffo- 
cate him in filth." But the priest cannot be vanquished. 
In the face of the words spewed out of blasphemous mouths 
which call down death and pile up great ruins, the priest 
conveys on his lips two words of life and eternity: a word 
of eternity which, each day, brings the living Word of 
God down upon the altar; a word of eternity which makes 
Him come down into souls, where He dwells, together with 
justice and the supernatural works of life. 


At the altar, as on the Cross, there is a single 
priest; for the priesthood with which we are invested is 
nothing more than a sharing in that of Christ. [306] 
Moreover, there is only one victim. 

In the ancient sacrifices the victim appeared dis- 
graced and close to death. It was bound with chains and 
adorned in funeral wrappings. It was called "sacred", and 
this term meant both that the victim was dedicated to God 
and, by contrast, that it was at the same time accursed 
and execrated. In this sense, it became responsible for 
all the iniquities of the people and, in a certain sense, 
was made to bear them. Hence it is that the [French] word 
"sacre" is used in popular speech as a term both of praise 
and blessing and, at the same time, as a term of impre- 
cation and blasphemy. 

Jesus Christ, inaccessible to our senses, and in His 
glorious state, is subject neither to death nor to any 
change; consequently He can no longer make Himself a 
victim. Yet it is of the essence of sacrifice that the 
victim should be visible, and that it should be destroyed 
or changed; and it was once customary that man should be 
able to feed on it, in order to share in the sanctifica- 
tion it had received. [307] However, Jesus Christ could 
not offer Himself on the altar with His natural features 

[306] Unus tantum est principalis pontifex et sacerdos, cui 
nullus proprie succedit, quia ipse perpetue durat: reliqui vero 
solum sunt vicarii ejus et ministri, per quos humano ac sensi- 
oili modo, sacerdotalia munera exercet, quia non fuit exped- 
iens, ipsum raanere inter homines ad ilia obeunda. (Suarez : 
LXXIV, section 2, p. 633) 

[3 07] It should be noted that consumption of the victim is not 
absolutely essential to the reality and perfection of the 
sacrifice. Thus Communion is a complementary and integral part 
of the sacrifice of the altar, but not its essence. In the Old 
Testament, the holocaust was a true sacrifice and, indeed, the 
most perfect. It was of its essence that man did not feed on 


and in His human form, and, for this reason, the Jews, 
interpreting the divine words in a gross, carnal sense, 
said: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 
Quomodo potest hie nobis carnem suam dare ad manducandum? 
So, Christ found means of offering Himself in a completely 
new and incomprehensible manner. He established His 
eternal priesthood, not according to the order of Aaron, 
but according to the order of Melchisedech. Just as this 
mysterious character went to meet the victorious Abraham 
in order to offer him bread and wine, so Jesus Christ 
chose bread and wine, not only as the matter, but as the 
symbol of His new sacrifice. So Jesus Christ does not 
appear on the altar in His own form and species [appear- 
ance] , but under the species of bread and wine. "The 
sacrifice of the Mass is composed of two elements, " says 
St. Augustine: "the visible appearances of the substance 
destroyed, and Jesus Christ, really present in the inte- 
grity of His flesh and blood." 

Just as in the ancient sacrifices one part of the 
victim was destroyed and the other part reserved for the 
use of men, so at the altar what is destroyed is the 
material substance of the bread, while what is retained 
are the accidents, the form of the bread, its fragrance, 
colour and taste - all the non-substantial qualities of 
the bread, which remain visible and stable. And just as 
the substance of the bread literally becomes Jesus Christ, 
so Jesus Christ, subsisting beneath the mystic veil of the 
remaining accidents, symbolically becomes bread in accor- 
dance with the words "Ego sum panis vivus." By an incom- 
prehensible marvel of His power and love, He makes Himself 
edible , capable of being changed into our substance, and 
He is truly our heavenly bread and our daily food. Not 
less wonderful is the fact that Christ, reduced to the 
state of a victim, should find the means of instructing 
us, and of offering us, in His eucharistic life, the 
example of all the virtues. 

In His sacramental life, Jesus Christ shows us a 
higher, and altogether new, degree of wisdom, a wisdom 
which values and relishes only what concerns the glory of 
God and His service, the salvation and sanctif ication of 
souls. The spirit which animates Jesus Christ in His 
sacramental state is a spirit detached from all our human 
and natural views, far removed from our ways of wordly 
prudence, which we deem to be far-seeing, because by them 
we are able so to direct our resources as to accede to 
honours, manage our fortune and remove the obstacles to 
our gross, self-seeking ends. The virtues which Christ 
sets before us are solid virtues, which do not consist of 
mere desires but are revealed efficaciously by their 
fruits. Thus He gives us admirable examples of humility. 
Wholly present in each host, He becomes, as it were, a 
speck of dust, reduced to the dimensions of a grain, of 
sand [308] in order to confound our vanity and our ambitions 

[308] When we say that Christ is reduced to the dimensions of a 
grain of sand, or a host one" inch in diameter, we must not 
misunderstand these expressions. We are speaking metaphor- 
ically, in respect of ourselves, and relatively, in respect of 
what is perceived by our senses. In actual fact, Jesus Christ 
is present in His entirety, in each particle of the Host vis- 
ible to the eye or tangible to the senses. There is absolutely 
nothing changed with regard to the intrinsic quantity and 
proportions of His" body for, as St. Thomas says: Nee status, 
nee statura signati minuitur. 


*nri fhe anxiety of men to make their way in the world. He 
SL not reserve tS Himself any means of protecting His 
Sgnity, I shall not say against our profanations, but 
aqainst our forgetfulness, negligence and mishaps. He 
gives us a heroic example of patience. He ^dures abandon- 
ment, loneliness and disdain. He does not complain of our 
coldness and indifference. He keeps silent, nev«r bet ray 
ing His indignation, during centuries- ^ impiety and 
folly, when sacrilegious hands snatched Him out of His 
taherAacles and cast Him away, like some foul^ref use. He 
bSf us be charitable, begs, intercedes and moves to 
mercy, restraining the wrath of His Father by showing Him 
the scars of His wounds; and, to appease Him, He offer up 
thl sacrifice which commemorates the death He underwent 
for us. 

He teaches us poverty, and gives admirable examples 
of the detachment that we should have in our dealings with 
creatures. In His eucharistic life Jesus Christ does not 
value any created object. Whether He is enshrined in a 
moAstrance of precious stones, enclosed in a rich lumin- 
arj, or Placed p in a wooden tabernacle or on bare boards, 
Jesus Christ offers no resistance, and never complains. 
He is indifferent to all our refinements and splendours, 
if He accepts our adornments and the homage of our prec- 
ious objects, it is out of graciousness, and for the sake 
of acquiescing in the outpourings of our piety. In this 
way He teaches us to despise all refinements and splen- 
dours; to remain indifferent to the goods of the earth, 
and to accept with the same equanimity honours or obscur- 
ity, wealth or poverty. Finally, He gives us examples of 
chastity. In the Eucharist, Jesus Christ is really and 
substantially present, but He subsists in the sacramental 
state, not under His own appearance, but under the appear- 
ances of bread and wine. In this respect, and inasmuch as 
He dwells beneath invisible veils, His senses are in- 
capable of receiving impressions. Our sweet odours do not 
flatter Him, our symphonies do not entrance Him, and our 
tangible objects do* not enamour Him. He shows us thereby 
what purity should govern our affections. He wants us, 
liJe Himself, to be of flesh, without that flesh being 
subject to any rebellion; to open our eyes, but without 
oringing them to rest upon any creature merely out o 
plealure and attraction; to breathe in sweet odours, but 
without ever feeling drawn to any but those of divine 

What remains to be said? Reigning in the highest 
heavens, Jesus Christ has found how to annihilate Himself 
each day, and deliver Himself into the hands of His mini- 
ster as a servant and captive. Possessing an immortal 
life, Jesus Christ has found how to undergo the onset of 
death and decomposition; and the new life which H e re- 
ceives in the sacrament, He loses each time that the Hosts 
deteriorate and decompose. Subsisting on our altars for 
nineteen centuries, He descends upon them every day, and 
every moment some point or other on the earth renews the 
oblation of His passion and death. 

If we paid heed to these teachings, what an admirable 
life we would lead! Ignorant, illiterate people, with 
their eyes fixed on this frail Host and their ears attent- 
ive to that inner voice which rings out into the depths ot 
the soul, have performed heroic deeds; for their own 
sanctification and that of others, they have derived the 
most penetrating insights and acquired more treasures and 
knowledge than if they had read all the writings of the 
Doctors and the Saints. We ourselves, with the aid ot the 


same examples, would become paragons of grace. Truly, our 
lives are filled with marvels, but will not these marvels 
one day bring our condemnation? Jesus Christ, on the 
altar, invites us to offer ourselves as living, holy 
victims, pleasing to God: Hostiam sanctam, viventem, Deo 
placentem. He teaches us thereby to humble ourselves in 
the face of praise, to endure persecution as if we were 
impassible, and to persevere unshaken in our commitments. 


At the altar, as on the Cross, there is the same 
priest and the same victim; there is also the same immol- 

"At the altar," says St. John Chrysostom, "there is 
a sword." And it is we priests who carry that sword, not 
in our hands, but on our lips. In point of fact, the 
immolation does not take place physically, but mystically 
and by representation. Yet this representation is so 
vivid and efficacious, that it is equivalent to the real- 
ity itself. 

According to St. Thomas, Suarez and the great theo- 
logians, it is not the Offertory, nor the Communion, but 
the Consecration which constitutes the essence of the 

Indeed, as Mgr. Rosset remarks, Christ did not under- 
go some ordinary death. He was not carried off by ill- 
ness, His bones were not torn apart nor did He meet His 
end by drowning; but He gave His life on the Cross by the 
shedding and loss of His blood. For this reason the Mass, 
instituted as the memorial of His sacrifice, must repres- 
ent His death in "the manner in which it was consummated. 
This can be so only if the body of Christ, by virtue of 
the sacramental words, is offered on the altar separately 
from His blood, and His blood in the chalice offered 
separately from His sacred body. 

Hence, if the bread alone were consecrated there 
would indeed be a representation of the death of Christ 
but not of His death such as He suffered it. If the wine 
alone were consecrated, the fact that Christ lay on the 
Cross deprived of the totality of His blood would not be 
clearly and formally expressed. [309] 

Thus, when the priest says, "This is my body," the 
body alone is called down upon the altar, and, if the 
blood, soul and divinity come at the same time, it is, as 
the theologians say, by mere concomitance, because Jesus 
Christ, risen from the dead, cannot now die. [310] If 
Jesus Christ were not in a supernatural and glorious 
state, the body would be separated from the blood, through 
the power of the sacramental words. When the priest says, 
"This is my blood," the blood alone is called down upon 
the altar, and, if it were not indissolubly and eternally 
united to the body, it would stream down as formerly, -on 
the Cross. The words, "This is my body, this is my 
blood," are the sword which probes deep into the very 
division of soul and spirit. If separation does not 
actually occur, the reason is not because the sword lacks 
power, but because it is paralyzed by the state of impass- 
ibility with which the glorious body of. the Saviour is 

[309] Mgr. Rosset: Tractatus de Eucharistia , p. 540. 
[310] Christus resurgens ex mortuis non jam moritur. 


Mgr. Rosset further remarks that the perfect accomp- 
lishment of the sacrifice in no way requires the actual 
immolation of the victim. It is sufficient that the sac- 
rificial act should be, of its nature, destructive of the 
thing offered. The Church places among the martyrs St. 
John the Evangelist, who was cast into boiling oil, and 
other saints who received wounds, or_ underwent tortures of 
their nature liable to cause~ death, even though, owing to 
a miracle, their death did not take place. In the Old 
Law, when the sacrificing priest had dealt the victim a 
mortal wound, the sacrifice was perfect, and the victim 
was deemed immolated even if it were miraculously saved. 

On the Cross and at the altar, Jesus Christ offers 
His Father the same death. On the Cross, He offers His 
present death, at the altar His past and consummated 

On the Cross, He offers Himself as a sacrifice of re- 
demption; at the altar, as a sacrifice deriving from that 
infinite source of grace which He once poured out on Cal- 
vary - on the Cross, in the state of a suffering man; at 
the altar, in the state of a supernatural, mystical man. 
As a matter of fact, in order that the sacrifice may be 
performed, the visible minister must intervene; but his 
action is accessory, which does not in the least diminish 
the dignity and price of the sacrifice. This is shown by 
the fact that the words used by the minister are the same 
ones that Jesus Christ spoke at the Last Supper.* Sermo 
autem Chris ti, non est alius quam verbum consecrat- 
ionis. [311] 

At the altar, we are not Christ in reality, but we 
are mystically, and we speak in His person: we say and do 
what Jesus Christ said and did, hoc facite in meam commem- 
orationem. We have the same power; for, as St. Gregory 
the Great says, what faithful Christian would doubt that, 
"at the moment of immolation and at the word of the priest, 
the heavens truly open, and- the choirs of angels accompany 
Jesus Christ in this mystery"? [312] At this moment the 
Eternal Father fixes His eyes on the offering. He does 
not in the least consider the person celebrating, but sees 
only His divine Son. He accepts His offering as supremely 
propitious and fitting, even if it be offered by the most 
unworthy and most sullied hands. 

The sacrifice of the Mass is supremely propitiatory 
for the living and for the dead. It is fully sufficient 
to obtain for us an abundance of grace from above and to 
satisfy all our needs. Infinite in value and dignity, it 
is nevertheless limited in its effects and appplication: 
for the reason that, those whom the sacrifice profits, 
namely the priest, the faithful and the Church, however 

[311] St. Ambrose: On The Psalms , 39. 

[312] Quis fidelium habere dubium possit, in ipsa immolationis 

hora ad sacerdotis voces, coelos aperiri, in illo Jesu Christi 

mysterio angelorum choros adesse? (St. Gregory the Great: j4, 
Dialogues , 36) 

*■ Note by the publishers of the English edition. Fr. Armin- 
jon's assertion that "the words used by the minister are the 
same ones that Jesus Christ spoke at the Last Supper" is no 
longer true of the rite used by the majority of those who call 
themselves Catholics - the Novus- Ordo Missae. Hence it is 
evident that those who use this rite are not complying with Our 
Lord's instruction to His ministers. 


holv she may be, have only a finite merit and dig- 
Siiy.[313] Jhey are capable of gaining new graces of 
attaining^ higher degree of perfection and, xn spite of 
Zv^-iv- offnrH it will never be possible for tnem tu 

st 6 ' U the frits deriving from such an oblation 
ThP sacrifice of the Mass is equivalent to that of the 
Cross ^t the sacrifice of the Cross, infinite as xt 
?n value is unable to bestow an indefinite multitude of 
merits and satisfactions, to the point where no more can 
be added. 

«*aid specially for the intention of this or that departea 

for all Christians in general. 

The sacrifice is offered in honour of the martyrs and 

Saint lFI a re e &^^^£^ a ^ SrS 
Militant" Tnd tha? th" intLcession and homage which we 
render them may obtain for them an increase xn accidental 
joy. [314] 

The sacrifice benefits the living, in order to obtain 
for them Xe grace of God, and repentance and remission of 
Se punishments due to their sins. -Hujus ^Pf it °^- 
ione placatur Dominus, et gratiam et . donum poenxtentxae 
concedens, crimina et peccata etiam ingentia dimittit. 


[313] Sacrif iei™. missae non potest produce ^ •££,,£*£; 

ucere^ut ^on ^olleaS iplius producers (Rosset: De Euchar- 
istia , p. 577) 
mdl qi auis dixerit imposturam esse, celebrare in honorem 

session 22, ch.3) 
[315] Council of Trent: session 22, ch.2. 

13161 *"££."■ w^^fS L ite not iB =e S r a ttln t o r X , o i :re 
ZV •daSSS" tl »in*" o/partly. upon the «it. ; and the degree 
othe-ifness of the .person who P«f o ? e tt » J^"- »£ « 
VoerSfanl absolute, T„ r d k epe e „de„t P of the minister who oon- 

the M aL, and" .U the^saoramenta of the New Law work "ex opere 

«««T- a Vn "" The sacrifices and sacraments of the Old Law, as 
wetl as' the sicr'amentals used by the Church such as prayers 
signs of the Cross and sprinkling with holy water, have an 
effect only "ex opere operantis." 


the sacrifice of the Mass is independent of the merits or 
demerits of the person who offers it. It is efficacious 
directly, and by the mere virtue of its institution, ex 
opere operato. It is a remedy the more precious because, 
with regard to the souls in Purgatory, the Church possess- 
es -no other which has an infallible and certain effect. 
Therchurch cannot make the faithful departed share in her 
sacraments, -for a sacrament is an external sign, percept- 
ible to the senses, which sanctifies only through the 
intermediary of the body. Consequently, separated souls, 
deprived of their senses and their earthly wrapping, are 
no longer capable of receiving its fruits. The sacrifice 
of the Mass is thus the sole means that the Church possess- 
es of applying to the dead the merits of the Passion and 
Blood of Jesus Christ in all their efficacy. This is the 
teaching of the Church and the Council of Trent: speaking 
of the effects of the sacrifice, they do not distinguish 
between the living and the dead - which is tantamount to 
saying that the same power which the sacrifice possesses 
of drawing God's mercy upon those living on earth serves 
also to soften the rigours of justice with regard to the 
dead. [317] 

The altar can still be seen in Rome where Gregory the 
Great said Mass, and where Jesus Christ appeared to inform 
him that every time he celebrated he obtained the deliver- 
ance of one soul from Purgatory. 

St. Augustine, in book 12, chapter 22 of The City of 
God , speaking of those who have departed this life, div- 
ides them into two categories, the "middling good" and the 
"middling bad". The "middling good" are those whose lives 
have been sullied only by venial faults and slight imper- 
fections. Sacrifice easily redeems these from their 
punishment and leads to their swift deliverance. The 
"middling bad" are those who have lived constantly in sin, 
whose lives were sullied by iniquity, but who nevertheless 
before death obtained pardon for their mortal sins. 
Sacrifice seldom shortens their punishment to any signifi- 
cant extent or secures their prompt deliverance: none- 
theless, it is of great benefit to them, because it miti- 
gates the intensity of their flames and diminishes the 
severity of their torments. 

It is not uncommon for departed souls to appear to 
the living: time and again, God has permitted these man- 
festations, either to awaken the living from their omis- 
sions and torpor, or in order that abandoned souls might 
obtain a swifter relief. 

The most trustworthy of these visions are those of 
St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland, which we 
have already mentioned; that of Louis the Debonair, 
emperor and king, the son of Charlemagne, who, after 
thirty-three years of torments, appeared to his son, Louis 
I; that of Pope Benedict VII, who occupied the Chair of 
St. Peter for twelve years and, quite a long time after 
his death, appeared to the bishop of Lapree, who had been 
his friend; and that of a sister of St. Thomas Aquinas, 
whom the Doctor had directed, and who appeared to him to 
tell him of her departure from this world and her entry 
into the place of atonement. All these souls, who return- 
ed for a moment to earth by an exceptional permission of 
God, had no intention of satisfying the curiosity of the 
persons to whom they appeared by disclosing to them the 
secrets of the next life; but urged them to fast, weep and 

[317] Accipe potestatem offerre sacrificium Deo, missasque 
celebrare tarn pro vivis quam pro defunctis. ( Pontif icale 


pray, and asked for Masses to be offered for their intent- 
ions, in order to obtain relief for them and hasten their 

The sacrifice of the Mass is profitable, not only for 
the soul, but also for the body, "ut sit ad salutem animae 
et corporis. " 

The sacrifice of the Mass, says Tertullian, contri- 
butes pre-eminently to the peace of the Church. It ob- 
tains for peoples good and wise governments. It is bene- 
ficial to offer it for soldiers, for those who sail upon 
the sea, for the sick, and, in general, for all those who 
are beset by sorrow and anguish or are bereft of the goods 
and advantages of this life. [318] The sacrifice of the 
Mass, says St. John Chrysostom, should be offered for 
harvests, and for the preservation of the fruits of the 
earth. [319] 

St. Augustine, in chapter 22 of The City of God, 
relates that in his time there was a house haunted by 
devils, and that as soon as Mass had been said in it the 
evil spirits disappeared. St. Gregory the Great, m his 
Dialo gues , quotes the story of a man captured by pirates. 
He was taken to a distant land, and thrown into a dark 
cell. For a long time afterwards his wife and friends did 
not know what had happened to him and, despite their 
enquiries, were unable to find any trace of him. Released 
at length from captivity, he related that, on certain 
days, when he groaned in prison, his fetters broke loose 
from his feet and hands and fell off by themselves. 

His wife and friends compared occasions and times, 
and ascertained that this marvel had occurred each time 
they had the holy sacrifice celebrated for the salvation 
of his soul. [320] 

St. Antoninus, Archbishop of Florence, relates that 
two youths used to lead dissolute lives and give them- 
selves up to licentiousness of every kind. One feast-day 
they went into the country, ostensibly on a hunting trip. 

One of these young men, out of a lingering regard for 
religion, had heard Mass in the morning, before his depart- 
ure In the evening, having indulged in debauchery and 
shameful, drunken revelry, the two young men prepared to 
return home. Scarcely had they began their journey ,_ when, 
all of a sudden, the sky became dark, flashes of lightn- 
ing streaked the clouds, and a storm broke out with min- 
gled thunderclaps and horrible wailing. Amidst this 
confusion of unleashed elements, a voice, the voice of 
God's justice, resounded unceasingly in the air, crying: 
"Strike! Strike!" The young man who had not attended Mass 

[318] Sacrificium, pro communi Ecclesiarum pace, pro recta mundi 
compos it ione, pro imperatoribus, pro militibus et sociis, pro 
iis qui infirmitatibus laborant; pro his qui af f lictionibus 
premuntur, et universim pro omnibus qui opibus indigent. (Tertul- 
lian: Ad Scapullam , ch.2) - _ _j ' 

[319] S. Chrysostomus saepe doeet -loffer ri sacrificium, pro 
fructibus terrae proque aliis necessitatibus. (Rossets p. 574) 

[320] St. Gregory the Great: lib. 3, Dialogues, 37, - Bede: 
Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation , book 4, chapters 
21 and 22. 


was struck by a thunderbolt, which killed him instant- 
aneously. The same voice continued to be heard, saying 
incessantly: "Strike! Strike !" The other young man, 
bewildered and terror-stricken, began to_ run, seeking to 
flee death and the vengeance of God which he felt approach- 
ing. But another voice was heard in the sky. It was that 
of Mercy, calling out: "Oh, nol Do not strike; for this 
morning he heard the words of salvation and life which are 
spoken at the altar: 'And the Word was made flesh and 
dwelt amongst us... full of grace and truth. '" [321] 

Alas, people no longer have even an inkling of the 
immense remedies and beneficence which they possess in 
Jesus Christ. They have no faith except in their physical 
strength and activity. They look upon themselves as tools 
and machines, and have no regard for one another except in 
terms of the level and rate of their salary. 

Proudly and disdainfully, they say: Those who eat 
every day should work every day. Sunday, with its bless- 
ings, its Mass and its futile ceremonies, is simply the 
great tide of industry held up in its course for twenty- 
four hours; the workman's wages reduced by a seventh; 
destitution in the workshop; bread and clothing taken away 
from the child and from the wife of the tradesman and the 
indigent. St. Paul gives them his answer: Men of little 
faith, is the kingdom of God food and drink? Has He Who 
clothes the lily of the fields, and gives the birds of the 
air their nourishment, ever disappointed those who serve 
Him at the feast of His providence? 

St. John Chrysostom tells us that Our Lord Jesus 
Christ shows Himself at the altar as on the throne of His 
clemency, His hands full of bounty and grace. He is 
surrounded by a multitude of angels, standing in an atti- 
tude of deep respect; and, through the medium of these 
celestial spirits, He bestows upon men all that promotes 
the good of soul and body. Who would dare, then, to 
affirm that this divine blood, shed every day upon our 
altars, had less power and efficacy than the sweat of man, 
rainfall, and dew from the sky to fructify our meadows and 
increase our industry? Where do we find prosperous fam- 
ilies and strong, developed races, except amongst those 
who go up to the altar and help to ensure the abundance of 
those fruits, by the fervour of their invocations and the 
power of their collaboration? 

In his treatise on Communion and Sacrifice, Fr. 
Rodriguez relates that a farmer used to set aside half an 
hour of his time every day to attend Mass. This farmer 
lived very comfortably, his lands sheltered from the 
inclemency of the weather; his fields seemed to be the 
best cultivated and the most fertile. No hostile in- 
fluence or poisoned germs harmed his trees and vines. 
Every year Kis barns were filled with copious fruits. His 
friends and neighbours were struck with admiration, unable 
to find an explanation for the marvellous fact of such 
strange perfection. One day the farmer took one of them 
to the church, at the time when the holy sacrifice was 
being celebrated. This is my talisman and my treasure, he 
said, here is the great source of spiritual and temporal 
blessings. Everyone is free to go in. On that altar, 
where Jesus Christ comes down every day, He is pleased to 
fulfil, for the sake of those who visit and venerate Him, 

[321] P. Rodriguez: Perfection Chretienne du Sacrifice de l_a 
Messe, ch. 16 . 


the maxim which He spoke of old: "Seek ye therefore first 
the kingdom of God and his justice; and all these things 
shall be added unto you. "[322] 

The sacrifice of the Mass - if we applied its fruits 
to ourselves - would most certainly protect us from great 
calamities and serve our temporal interests more than our 
discoveries, industrial advances and all the learning of 
our agricultural experts ever will. It would promptly 
destroy, by its own power, the vine-mildew, phylloxera, 
all those mysterious diseases which poison our vines, 
fruits and even the tuber which the poor man uses to 
relieve his hunger. It would make us enjoy, even in this 
world, that compensatory abundance promised by the Gospel; 
a foretaste of Heaven, abounding in the crown of bount- 
eousness to come. 

Solomon, speaking of the figurative and imperfect 
sacrifices of the Old Law, said: "If the heavens be shut 
up and there fall no rain by reason of the sins of the 

people, and if a famine arise in the land... or if their 

enemies waste the country .. .and they shall pray to thee in 
this place... then hear thou from heaven, Lord,... and 
give rain to thy land which thou hast given to thy people 
to possess. " 

Ah, what would become of the world, saddened by so 
many misfortunes and scandals, if, at a time when hostile 
politicians conspire against Jesus Christ, or when a foul, 
licentious press by its blasphemies unceasingly calls down 
the wrath and malediction of God upon mankind - if at such 
a time as this the voice of Jesus Christ, as He descended 
each day upon the altar, did not ascend towards His Father, 
to present to Him petitions appealing for mercy rather 
than justice! And when I think that this sacrifice is 
performed every minute of the day, and that the sun in its 
orbit around the world does not cease for a moment, at 
some point or other of the earth, to cast its rays upon 
the spotless Host, I feel my heart swell and my hopes 
grow, and I can no longer comprehend our fears, our un- 
certainties and our rebelliousness. 

Daniel, announcing the precursory signs of God's 
justice and the fall of kingdoms, and pointing out the 
great catastrophes which will wipe out from the face of 
the earth Jerusalem, and the great cities, drunk, like 
that deicide town, with the wine of adultery and forni- 
cation, tells us: "You will recognize that the great 
calamities are near, when you see the abomination of 
desolation in the holy place, and when the perpetual 
sacrifice shall have ceased." At the period of the final 
desolation, there will be a time when the unbloody sacri- 
fice will no longer be celebrated over the whole surface 
of the earth. There will. then be no mediator between the 
justice of God and man. The crimes and blasphemies will 
no longer have any counterbalance. That will be the 
moment when the just Judge will appear in His glory, and 

[322] Quaerite ergo primum regnum Dei et justitiam ejus, et haec 
omnia adjicientur vobis. (Matthew 6:32) _ 


the heavens will be folded up like a tent which has no 
more travellers to shelter . [323] 

We have not yet reached that supreme period. To be 
convinced of this ,we need only consider the treasures of 
virtuous living, the marvels of dedication and heroism, 
which unceasingly reveal the picture of a watchful God who 
immolates Himself night and day. 

Ah, how many priests, filled with divine fervour as 
they leave ■ the altar, have torn themselves away from the 
arms of a tearful family and hastened into distant lands, 
to replace one of their brethren who had been devoured by 
animals or by horrific cannibals' How many virgins, 
voluntary captives, like St. Teresa, behind the dark gates 
of a cloister, have momentarily felt their hearts troubled 
by bitter desolations; have caught themselves, unawares, 
casting a regretful look upon the world and its pleasures, 
which they_ had left behind. Fortunately, the sanctuary 
was a few steps away from the cell in which they were 
subjected to those violent combats, and the thought of the 
divine Hermit, for nineteen centuries a prisoner of love, 
at once rekindled the fire of their devotion. They ex- 
claimed: "Rather death than abandon Him." How many men, 
in a position to defend themselves, have kept silent in 
the face of an insult, and, instead of drawing the sword, 
have humbly turned the other cheek! Had these men, these 
"knights of ignominy", not one drop of noble blood in 
their veins? Were they cowards? Ah, the memory of their 
God, abandoned and annihilated on the altar, swallowing 
without complaint every ingratitude and outrage, made them 
trample, underfoot the opinion and false judgements of 
men, and they exclaimed: Quis ut Deus? 

This saying, "Quis ut Deus?", was the war-cry uttered 
in Heaven at the very beginning of time. Lucifer, the 
most dazzling and radiant archangel, and to-day the basest 
and most horrible of devils, raised the standard of the 
first revolt. Among the spirits whose leader he was, he 
sought to hold a plebiscite against God, aspiring to raise 
himself above the clouds of Heaven, and become like to the 
Most High. [324] There was then a great battle, in which 
truth and justice triumphed. [325] The archangel Michael 

[323] Note by the publishers of the English edition. Fr. Armin- 
jon appears to be asserting here that the abolition of the holy 
sacrifice of the Mass, as Daniel foretold would eventually 
happen, would be immediately followed by the Second Coming and 
the end of the world. There is no direct evidence of this in 
Holy Scripture and indeed it is in effect contradicted by Fr. 
Arminjon himself in the Second Conference (on pages 36 and 37) 
in which he firmly expresses the opinion that there will be 
many centuries between the reign and death of Antichrist (who 
will of course be responsible for the abolition of the last 
trace of the Mass) and the Second Coming and the end of the 

[324] In coelum conscendam, super astra Dei exaltabo solium 
meum... Ascendam super altitudinem nubium, similis ero alt- 
issimo. (Isaias 14:13,14) 

[325] Et factum est praelium magnum in caelo; Michael et angeli 
ejus praelibantur cum dracone, et draco pugnabat, et angeli 
ejus. (Apocalypse 12:7) 


drew attention to the excellence and dignity of the Most 
High God. He reminded the good angels of the beneficence 
of Him who had created them, the gifts and prerogatives 
with which He had endowed their nature, and, saying to 
them "Quis ut Deus? - Who is like to God?" - maintained 
them in fidelity and submission. 

We cannot, like the archangel Michael, make the 
Eternal One visible on His throne; but we have the Lamb, 
dead and immolated from the very beginning, in our 
midst. [32 6] We have the spectacle of that incompre- 
hensible, infinite love which, in order to draw us to Him 
with greater gentleness and intensity, reduces itself 
each day to the tiny dimensions of a host, one inch in 
diameter. Modern society to-day, in the face of Heaven 
and earth, has proclaimed the most audacious boast ever 
conceived by human pride; it declares that it will exclude 
God from laws and institutions, creating a social order 
and felicity completely independent of Him; and, con- 
fronted with this Satanic design, it is our duty to pro- 
test loudly, saying, with the archangel: "Quis ut Deus?" 

The time has come to conclude and sum up. The Church 
teaches that Jesus Christ truly dwells upon our altars, 
that the substance of the bread and wine is changed into 
the substance of His adorable flesh and blood, and that in 
this state He immolates Himself to His Father, for the 
sins of the world. However, in order that the sublime 
mystery of our altars may produce an effect [upon our 
lives] , the faithful must be rightly disposed. It cannot 
purify a soul that is attached to its disorderly ways, nor 
restore to goodness a heart obdurate in evil. The Real 
Presence and sacrifice detach man from the life of the 
senses, and make him live a spiritual life; at the same 
time they show us the Supreme Benefactor, ever living in 
this vale of misery to soften our bitterness, appease our 
sufferings, dry up our tears, expunge our injustices and 
heal our wounds. Ah, if we bring forth our raptures in 
harmonious unison, if we surround our worship with all the 
magnificence of the arts, if we seek from nature the most 
precious things that she has to embellish our altars, and 
if our basilicas have shown the world new marvels and 
splendours, who can be surprised? The King of Heaven and 
earth, our Saviour and our God, dwells among us in 
person. [327] 

You, then, feeble and faint-hearted souls, who feel 
your faith faltering and weakening, shaken by the effront- 
ery and arrogant clamour of the wicked, turn your eyes for 
a moment upon the Christian world where, in spite of 
ingenious, mendacious conspiracies, Jesus Christ continues 
to be loved and adored. [328] See those crowds who fill 
our churches at the times of the major solemnities, kneel- 
ing humbly and invoking Jesus Christ with the unshakable 

[326] Qui occisus est ab origine mundi. (Apocalypse 12:8) 

[327] Moeller: Symboligue , translated by Mgr. Lachat. 

[328] Note by the publishers of the English edition. Fr. Armin- 
jon of course could not have written this sentence, or the rest 
of this paragraph, had he been writing today when there is no 
longer a "Christian world". It is one of the very few passages 
in the book which has been completely overtaken by events. 


conviction that their prayer will reach Heaven. See the 
dying, as they press His blessed picture to their lips so 
as to fortify themselves against the anguish and the fears^ 
of their final agony. See those sorrowful countenances, 
bowing down at the steps of His lonely altars and straight- 
ening up again, beaming with an_ indescribable joy. See 
those sinners, stricken with remorse, beating their 
breasts and departing, trusting that they have regained 
pardon. Such is the infallible voice of mankind; the 
striking testimony of popular faith; the profound cry of. 
public conscience, which can be diminished for a day but 
which all the threats of the mighty and the artifices of 
atheistic science will never succeed in stifling. 

Napoleon, on the rock of his exile, said to one of 
his comrades in arms: "I understand men, and I tell you 
that Jesus Christ was not a man." He openly confessed the 
presence of Jesus Christ in His sacramental life, himself 
asking to receive the last Viaticum of the dying; and 
when, by this noble act, he had solemnly professed the 
faith of his childhood, he added to the same comrade in 
arms: "I am happy, general, to have fulfilled my duty, and 
I wish you the same fortune When you die."* 

Let us be victims with Jesus Christ. Since He sacri- 
fices Himself on the altar, let us give Him in return the 
fullness of our being. By giving Him our minds, we shall 
enlighten them with His understanding; by giving Him our 
hearts, we shall cure them of their weakness and incon- 
stancy; by giving Him our whole being, we shall ensure our 
glory and indefectibility . [329] 

* Note by the publishers of the English edition. A dif- 
ferent version of Napoleon's last moments, effectively con- 
tradicting Fr. Arminjon's account, is given in Pius VII by Mary 
Allies, London, Burns and Oates, 1897. 

[329] In a picturesque town in Switzerland, surrounded by green, 
wooded mountains, irrigated by an abundance of clear water, the 
author of this conference was walking one day in the company of 
a Protestant minister. The latter acknowledged that he accept- 
ed the Real Presence, and could not imagine how Calvin could 
have denied it; but he refused to accept the truth of the 
sacrifice of the Mass, on the grounds that, as the sacrifice of 
the Cross was, of its nature, superabundant and infinite, all 
other sacrifices became, by this very fact, useless and super- 
fluous. The person to whom he addressed this opinion asked his 
interlocutor to consider the waterfalls that flowed down from 
the rocks, and the limpid streams that gushed from the hills or 
wound in and out through the meadow. "You see those springs," 
he remarked to the minister; "they, too, are perfect and plenti- 
ful. Will you, then, assert that it was useless to build 
aqueducts, and arrange catchment-basins, in order to bring the 
water inside the town?" The minister, who was a man of great 
learning and good faith, perceived the allusion and said immed- 
iately: "I understand." The Mass is, in fact, an application, 
not an addition to the sacrifice of the Cross, it is the means 
and the channel whereby the infinite power of the sacrifice of 
Calvary, accomplished once only, flows down upon the Church and 
the faithful. 



The mystery of suffering in its relationship 
with the future life . 

Homo natus de muliere, brevi vivens tempore, 
repletur multis miseriis 

Man, born of a woman, living for a short time, 
is filled with many miseries. (Job 14:1) 

There is one inevitable, mysterious and universal 
law, inexplicable to science. 

It is the law of suffering. 

This law, promulgated on the day when sin entered the 
world, is set out in three sentences which, in their sad 
universality, embrace the evils and all the misfortunes 
that afflict the human race: "In the sweat of thy face 
shalt thou eat bread", it was said to the man. "In sorrow 
shalt thou bring forth children," it was said to the 
woman. Dust, sickness and germs shall make thee subject 
to the decomposition which will be consummated in the 

From the day when this threefold sentence was thund- 
ered forth, pain became a great law of mankind. Like an 
immense river, it has carried its bitter waters through 
the course of the ages for two thousand years. All mortal 
beings - to a greater or lesser degree, indeed, but all, 
without exception - have drunk deep therein. 

All that has life, the Apostle says, is condemned to 
weep and groan: "Every creature groaneth and travaileth in 
pain, even till now. "(Romans 8:22) The disinherited race 
of Adam, like a man gravely ill, turns over and over on 
its bed of grief and anguish. Notwithstanding its desper- 
ate efforts, and despite its industry and the extent of 
its conquests, it has not ceased for a moment to suffer; 
up till now it has been unable to overcome poverty, ill- 
ness and death. Before Christ, mankind bore the appear- 
ance of a tortured criminal, smitten, says Isaias, from 
head to foot, and without a single part of his body left 
sound. To free it from the inexorable law which had 
weighed it down since its fall, nothing less was necessary 
than a doctor from Heaven. The sick man could be cured 
only by the application of a higher, divine remedy. 

Without doubt, Jesus Christ could have abolished pain 
at a single stroke, and, by virtue of the infinite grace 
of the Redemption, restored man to the state of complete, 
unmixed bliss which he enjoyed in the paradise of inno- 
cence. He did not so wish. He judged that, for some, 
suffering would be a source of merit, a gain, a source of 
glory and a means of renewal and triumph; that, for the 
greater number, it would be a necessary expiation. He 
therefore maintained suffering, but purified, ennobled and 
transfigured it by taking it upon Himself. He became the 
man of sorrows, virum dolorum, in the strict and absolute 
sense of these words. 


Jesus Christ could have appeared amongst us, radiant 
with joy and encompassed by divine splendour, amidst the 
glitter and pomp of His sovereign majesty. He deemed it 
more worthy of His glory and more profitable to the sal- 
vation of men, to show Himself to them girt with a diadem 
of thorns, clothed in purple and stained with blood, His 
face bruised, the grimace of death on His lips, bearing 
the bloody unction of -"ther nails imprinted on His hands and 
feet. _"'-_"- 

In uniting us closely with suffering, Christ assur- 
edly did not smoothe all its severity and all its pangs; 
but He removed part of its bitterness, corrected and 
destroyed its poison. He made the chalice of His blood 
fruitful. Like the brazen serpent set up by Moses in the 
desert, He implanted Himself in the centre of the world as 
an inexhaustible instrument of mercy, life and health. 
Owing to this transformation, His divine wounds, like 
fountains ever gushing, remain eternally open to all 
straying and fallen souls who are eager to escape from 
their coarse, sensual aspirations, wanting to immerse 
themselves anew in the joys of sacrifice and the honour of 

Who would not admire here the depth of the counsels 
of infinite Wisdom! Man had become lost in the paradise 
of bliss: he will rise again amidst the sorrows of Calvary. 
He had refused to go to God by the way of happiness: Jesus 
Christ will open a better and surer way for him, that of 
the Cross. "Heaven and earth were separate; the Cross has 
brought them together." In the Cross is salvation; in the 
Cross is strength and joy of mind; in it is to be found 
the complement of virtue and the abundance of all holi- 
ness. [330] 

The cross, before Jesus Christ let Himself be nailed 
to it, was a mark of infamy, an instrument of malediction 
and disgrace; but when, resigned and inflamed with love, 
He had lain down upon that tree of woe like the spouse 
upon his marriage bed, the cross was washed of the ignominy 
with which it had been sullied, it became the starting- 
point of glorious renovations, the emblem of royalty and 
greatness, the prize of genius and gallantry, the fruitful 
stimulus of heroic battles, the source of the most indes- 
cribable joys and of the surest and truest consolations. 
"O sweet Cross," exclaimed St. Andrew, "adorned with the 
limbs of the Lord, long desired Cross, tenderly loved, 
sought after unceasingly, take me in your arms back to my 
divine Master, so that He Who through you has redeemed me 
may through you vouchsafe to receive me. "[331] 

So it is that the rugged splendours of Calvary infin- 
itely surpass all the delights and raptures of Thabor, and 
that, following their leader Stephen, countless generat- 
ions of martyrs and saints have relished more sweetness in 
the hail of stones that were cast at them than they would 
have tasted in showers of fragrance and roses. 

[330] In cruce salus, in cruce vita, in cruce protectio ab 
hostibus; in cruce infusio supernae suavitatis, in cruce robur 
mentis, in cruce gaudium spiritus. In cruce summa virtutis, in 
cruce perfectio sanctitatis. Non est salus animae, nee spes 
aeternae vitae, nisi in cruce. (Thomas a Kempis: Imitation of 
Christ , book 2, chapter 12) 

[331] O bona crux, quae decorem ex membris Domini suscepisti, 
diu desiderata, sollicite amata, sine interraissione quaesita, 
et aliquando cupienti, animo praeparata, accipe me ab hominibus 
et redde me magistro meo; ut per te me recipiat qui per te me 
redemit. ( Roman Breviary , lectio for the Feast of St. Andrew) 


Such is the exalted, magnificent doctrine which we 
shall treat in this last conference, enlarging on it and 
harmonizing it. 

We can imagine why the philosopher, guided only by 
natural reason, should complain in his trials that he 
takes his sufferings as an excuse for blaspheming Heaven 
and Providence, or that, wrapping himself in the mantle of 
stoic disdain, he should exclaim: "Suffering, I spurn you, 
for you are but a superfluous word." We Christians, 
however, guided by a higher light, raise our eyes towards 
the celestial future, of which the tribulations of this 
life are the preparation and pledge. Has not our Master 
told us that suffering is the ante-chamber through which 
we must pass in order to enter the kingdom of glory? [332] 
Let us accept it, as proof of the tender beneficence of 
this God who makes us share in His sorrows and agony only 
to render us worthy of the eternal crown which He is 
preparing for us. 

In order to cover the general lines of our subject, 
let us study suffering from the three aspects of nature, 
grace, and glory. 

From the point of view of nature, suffering is a 
principle of dignity and moral strength for man. From the 
point of view of grace, it is the principle of our incorp- 
oration into the divine life of Jesus Christ. From the 
point of view of glory, it is a principle and source of 

Before speaking of the advantages of pain and the 
marvellous benefits which it brings to the soul, it is 
appropriate to recall its meaning in philosophy. 

St. Thomas [333] defines pain as evil that repels - 
that is, the obstacle which obstructs - the exercise of 
the powers of the soul, or the free development of corp- 
oreal and sensitive life. Pain is an impression which 
affects the soul and causes it repugnance, either when the 
mind cannot attain the truth which is its object, or when 
the will is frustrated in the good which it pursues. 
Whether pain has its seat in the mind or in the body, it 
is an impression abhorrent to the creature who feels it; 
to an extent, it deforms him and causes a deterioration 
and a kind of diminution in him. In the mind, an evil or 
obstacle is called sadness, regret or anguish; in the 
body, it is called debility, pain or sickness. Whatever 
be the nature or the countless forms which pain may assume, 
it is, in essence, a vexation, a conflict, a lack of 
balance and harmony, in the intellectual faculties or in 
the sensory organs of the body. In short, pain is an 
impediment which runs counter to the normal course of 
life, just as joy is a mode of consonance which promotes 
its full expansion. 

[3 32] Nonne rhaec oportuit pati Christum, et ita intrare in 
glorium suam? (Luke 24:26) 

[333] Causa ehim doloris est malum conjunctum quod repugnat 
corpori; causa autem interioris doloris est malum conjunctum 
quod repugnat appetitui. Dolor etiam exterior sequitur appre- 
hensionem interiorem vel imaginationis scilicet, vel etiam 
rationis. Nam dolor interior est ex eo quod aliquid repugnat 
ipsi appetitui; exterior autem dolor, ex hoc quod aliquid 
repugnat corpori. (St. Thomas: Summa Theologica , II, Q.25, A. 6) 


The pagan philosophers, aided solely by the light of 
reason, had a certain understanding of the advantages and 
rewards of suffering. 

They regarded it as the best of schools, where man 
could train himself in the laborious and difficult study 
of himself, and prepare himself to fulfil, one day, the 
great tasks of human life. 

"Woe to the child of fortune," they would say, "rear- 
ed amidst the lure of luxury and softness, the man upon 
whom the world has constantly smiled, and who has never 
been thwarted or hindered in his desires." If, amongst 
men intoxicated - and corrupted by prosperity, there is a 
lingering trace of tenderness, if there .is human compas- 
sion in them, and if the heart of a man still beats in 
their breast, it will be merely for the sake of their 
selfishness and the satisfaction of their disordered 
passions. "Woe to the peoples, when such men succeed m 
taking hold of the sceptre of public power. Like Tiberius 
and Nero, they will be the scourges of the human race. 
The whole earth will come before their eyes like a prey 
reserved for the satisfaction of their colossal pride and 
their most extravagant and brutish appetites." 

Those sages further added: 

"What mortal has ever looked at suffering, with its 
severe and sombre countenance, or squared up to it, with- 
out soon blessing it as a sweet gift from Heaven. Just as 
the hardest mortals soften and melt under the effect of 
fire, so it is that suffering transforms noble souls. It 
arouses in them a virtue which moves, restores, super- 
naturalizes and soothes them. 

"Take, for instance, the poor man who has long suff- 
ered indigence and unhappiness. If he attains wealth, he 
will use it with wisdom and moderation. He has learned 
through hard experience how much it costs to be poor, to 
eat a seldom-found loaf of bread, and to live on earth 
wandering, sick and ignored. Look at the statesman, the 
mighty and respected prince. If, before being raised to 
the throne, he has endured the anguish and bitterness of 
exile, if he has drunk to the full the cup of ingratitude 
and opprobrious conduct, he will not let himself be dazz- 
led as much as another man by the grandeur and glitter of 
his sovereignty. He will willingly cast a respectful and 
compassionate eye upon an obscure subject fallen into 
disgrace. He knows that nobility of thought and loftiness 
of soul can lie hidden under rags no less than under the 
dignity of kingship; he recalls to mind that he, too, has 
xong lived in banishment, a fugitive unknown and defamed. 
Or look at the priest: when, by the melancholy of his 
eyes, the premature deterioration of his features and the 
smile of resignation on his lips, people conclude that 
suffering has often visited his soul, he is held in great- 
er respect and affection. Those who are forsaken will 
lean their grief-stricken souls more trustingly upon his, 
in the belief that remedy and consolation are bound to 
flow from his soul in a more paternal and merciful manner. 
Lastly, is this man, tried by long and bloody misfortunes, 
an obscure, forsaken creature? Far from despising him, we 
see in his pain a glorious purification of his life. A 
secret feeling tells us that such a man is a privileged 
being, carefully prepared by the divine hand for a destiny 
more glorious than that of time. In him we admire a 
nobility more splendid than that of blood, the nobility of 
suffering unflinchingly borne." 


I do not know whether everyone thinks so, but the 
soul that has suffered long and greatly seems less att- 
ached to the earth. His changed and chastened disposition 
makes him seem more angelic than human. This man and that 
woman have lived amid the joys of life, without ever 
having felt or tasted them. Does not such a state imprint 
an immortal sublimity upon them? Does not an inner voice 
tell us that these souls possess a closer and deeper 
vision of the mysteries of Heaven; that their heart is a 
sanctuary which sends forth a more expansive fragrance of 
faith, hope and love? 

In the East, there are certain aromatic woods which 
are crushed and mashed, so as to make the 'fragrant liquor, 
mingled with their sap, spring out. In the same way, 
divine goodness tramples and crushes man in the wine-press 
of affliction, in order to chastise in him a flesh that 
has served as an abode for early disorders, to set him 
free from all dregs of corruption, and so that he may 
become the mysterious vessel from which will flow the 
inexhaustible source of all virtue. 

One thing is certain: there has never been, and never 
will be, moral elevation, heroic holiness, or virtue 
worthy of the name, which does not have its principle or 
draw its growth and strength in suffering freely accepted 
or dauntlessly undergone. 

How is it that our will is often wavering and undec- 
ided, that our life is strewn with such strange fluct- 
uations and such unhappy fickleness, that we are dejected 
by insignificant things, that an inconsiderate word said 
to us, or a change in the serenity of the sky, is enough 
to make us go from the height of joy to the depths of 
gloom? The cause of these fluctuations and changes is 
simply the repugnance and instinctive horror we feel 
towards suffering. 

By the assiduous care we take to refuse the slightest 
hardship and the least injury, and to keep away from us 
anything that seems even in the smallest degree demanding, 
we create for ourselves a state of abject bondage. Our 
heart falls under the sway of as many tyrants as there are 
impressions, each of which in turn grips us in its in- 
fluence. No virtue can subsist in such fickle souls, no 
high position is compatible with a character that drifts 
along with every current and turn of fortune. Thus the 
man in this state turns aside from his stern duties, and 
becomes a slave to the most futile fantasies. Forgetting 
that human life is a reality and not fiction, he seeks 
diversion in frivolous amusements, squanders his best 
years in pleasures and idleness and boredom, and consumes 
fruitlessly the talent which God had entrusted to him. In 
this enfeebling frame of mind, a man need only come before 
him with threatening words and the power to interfere with 
his repose, interests or pleasures, and that man_ will at 
once be his master, will have full power to subject him 
either to a degrading bondage or to unspeakable tortures. 

How far removed from the inexhaustible pettiness of 
these flabby, effeminate souls is the firm, high-minded 
attitude of him who, by dint of doing battle with suffer- 
ing, has become, as it were, inured to its wounds and 
tolows! How fine it is to see him serene and majestic, 
amidst storms and the agitation of passions, fulfilling 
the words of the wise man: "Non constristabit justum 
quidquid ei acciderit - Whatsoever shall befall the just 



n, it shall not make him sad. "[334] 

Calmly he hears the noise of revolutions, and sees 
republics and dynasties pass; it is as if the scene of 
men's vain and conflicting interests lay in the nether 
regions beneath his feet. No disturbance on this earth 
moves him, because he has learned to see events in the 
infinite wisdom which governs all things by its provi- 
dence, and which permits evil only in order to draw^ good 
from it by a striking manifestation, fle carries within 
himself a kind of haven of happiness and repose. Mankind 
and the elements combined are powerless to offend or harm 
him. Is he sent into exile? He will reply with a great 
bishop: For me, the whole earth is my native land and my 
exile. Is he stripped of his goods? He has learned hoW 
to possess them without permitting them to enthral his 
heart. Is he put to death? Death, for him, is trans- 
figuration to a better life, emancipation from his 

Such was the serenity and heroic constancy of St. 
John Chrysostom, banished by Eudoxia, Empress of Constan- 
tinople . 

"When I was fleeing the town," said the Saint, "I did 
not feel my misfortune at all, and I was interiorly in- 
undated with the most indescribable consolations. If the 
Empress sends me into exile - I said to myself - I shall 
consider that the earth and all that it contains is the 
Lord's. If she has me thrown into the sea, I shall re- 
member Jonas. If she orders me to be stoned, I shall be 
the companion of St. Stephen. If she has me beheaded, I 
shall have the glory of John the Baptist. If she strips 
me of what I possess, I shall reflect that I came forth 
naked from the bowels of the earth, and must return to it 
naked and stripped of everything." 

Count de Maistre relates the story of a girl who was 
the wonder of the city of St. Petersburg. Suffering had 
transfigured her, and had made the light of supernatural, 
anticipated glory shine out in her bearing and features. 
She was consumed by a cancer which was eating away her 
head. Her nose and eyes had disappeared already. The 
disease was moving across her virginal brow like a fire 
which consumes a palace. The whole city was amazed at the 
sweetness of her voice and her angelic resignation, and 
hastened to wonder at the delightful spectacle. When 
someone expressed compassion for the sufferings of the 
girl, she replied: "I do not suffer as much as you think, 
for God grants me the grace of often thinking of Him." 
One day, to people who asked her what prayers she would 
offer to God when she was in Heaven, she replied: "I shall 
ask Him to grant you the grace to love Him as I love Him 
myself. "[335] 

The pagans had already perceived this reflection and 
halo of beauty and grandeur which suffering leaves on the 
creature's brow. 

[334] Proverbs 12:21. Horace expressed the same thought in the 
well-known line, "Si fractus labatur orbis, impavidum ferient 
ruinae - If the whole world disintegrated, the fragments would 
strike him unperturbed." 

[335] Soirees de Saint - Petersbourg : vo 1 . 1 . 


One day, the prince of their philosophers set himself 
this daunting problem: If the Divinity were ever to 
condescend to come down upon earth, under what image would 
it be fitting for Him to appear? Plato walked about for a 
long time, silent and pensive, turning over in his mind, 
one by one, all the leading figures of human history. The 
most dazzling countenances, those of potentates, did not 
seem to him pure enough. Finally, he formed a picture of 
a man, master of his affections, whose least thoughts were 
irreproachable; he was pleased to portray him as being 
foreign to all strife, responding by gentle goodness to 
the cruellest treatment, calm and serene amidst the wave 
of insults and fury of a riotous multitude, radiant even 
on the infamous gibbet, to which his uncomprehended virtue 
had led him. 

Plato considered that, if mankind ever succeeded in 
producing such a figure, it would have achieved its high- 
est endeavour, and that the earth would have no finer 
spectacle for which to envy Heaven; and, with the enthus- 
iasm and solemnity of a wise man affirming one of those 
great truths which the human ear has never heard, Plato 
exclaimed: "If the Divinity were ever to condescend to 
become visible to men, there would be only one image 
worthy of It, that of the just man suffering." 


Has Jesus Christ made complete and absolute satis- 
faction for our sins? Did He take upon Himself, not only 
the eternal punishment, but also the temporal punishment 
due to them? St. Thomas replies in the affirmative, and 
gives as evidence the constant practice of the Church, 
which does not impose any penance upon the faithful reborn 
by baptism, and the universal tradition that, once man has 
been enveloped in the image of Jesus Christ by the water 
of baptism, he dies entirely to his former vices, has no 
further punishment or atonement to undergo on this earth, 
and, if he died after being regenerated by the sacrament, 
would be admitted immediately to the vision of God, with- 
out passing through the flames of Purgatory. 

But, for the unfortunate transgressors of baptismal 
innocence, guilty of serious faults after the supreme 
grace of the first sacrament, redemption is not trans- 
mitted in this privileged form and in this full and super- 
abundant measure. After baptism, when divine mercy des- 
cends upon us it is always accompanied by a measure of 
justice. We are still assured of the infinite merits and 
fruit of Christ's sufferings, but on condition that we 
obtain them by personal co-operation and by energetic and 
violent efforts. In a word, penance, as Tertullian calls 
it, is a baptism of pain. In this sacrament, destined to 
regenerate the soul which is dead a second time owing to 
sin, the blood and tears of Jesus Christ are no longer 
shed in order to spare our own, but instead to render them 
fruitful and proportionate to the scanty virtue of our 
amends, and to the immensity of the debts incurred by our 

It follows that there are only two paths leading to 
eternal life: innocence and penance. 

Penance is a law of proportion. St. Paul tersely 
sets out the principle which determines its intensity and 
degree in these words: " you have yielded your 
members to serve unc leanness and iniquity, unto iniquity, 


so now yield your members to serve justice, unto sancti- 
fication." [336] Reparation, to be sufficient, must equal 
the disorder contained in the fault. The state of the 
sinful man in his relations with creatures is not that of 
the man who has never rendered himself guilty of any 
offence. The person who has been unfortunate enough to 
let himself be misled by the voice of the^ tempter and, 
adhering to the gross- attractions ; of" creatures, has 
preferred their deceptive and limited beauty to the beauty 
of the Creator - such a person is bound, at the cost of 
the most indescribable, heart-rending efforts, to tear 
himself away from the occasions of sin which have led him 
astray, and from the people who have charmed and enticed 
him. Making his way back through the slimy waters of the 
torrent which dragged him along, he must rigorously punish 
the heart, imagination or senses which had rebelled against 
reason and the law of God, just as he would punish an 
intractable servant or some rebellious slaves. 

The fundamental principle of penance consists in the 
fact that, for one who has fallen a second time, there is 
only one means of reintegration: the courageous and volun- 
tary acceptance of a measure of pain equal to the measure 
of pleasure and sweetness relished amidst iniquity and 
crime. Hence it follows, in accordance with the profound 
observation of St. Ignatius Loyola, that penance by no 
means consists in the renunciation of all excess, or in 
the reduction of that which is useless and superflous. To 
eliminate unnecessary things is the virtue of temperance , 
[337] not the virtue of penance. Penance takes place only 
when man cuts out what is agreeable, and deprives himself 
of part of what is useful or necessary. [338] 

[336] Humanum dico propter infirmitatem carnis vestrae; sicut 
enim exhibuistis membra vestra servire immunditiae et 
iniquitati ad iniquitatem; ita nunc exhibete membra vestra 
servire justitiae in sanctif icationem. (Romans 6:19) 

[337] St. Ignatius Loyola: Spiritual Exercises , Additions. 

[338] If you do not penance, Our Lord has said, you will all 
perish. It is of the nature of penance to be proportionate to 
the fault. If amends are not made spontaneously in this world, 
they will be made without fail in the next. The Church does 
indeed offer us the merits of the saints and indulgences as 
repayment for the debts we have contracted; but indulgences 
imply penance. They are a substitution and a means of revers- 
ibility. Just as in the social body, by virtue of the soli- 
darity which unites the various members, one subject may dis- 
charge another of part or the whole of his penalty by himself 
undergoing the ' punishment deserved, so the Church, which has 
assiduously gathered in her treasuries the Blood of Jesus 
Christ and the satisfaction offered by the saints, applies them 
to us, by means of conditions easy to fulfil, in order to come 
to our aid in our weakness during this life and to spare us 
cruel torments after death; but this doctrine, which is none 
other than that one man is able morally to represent another 
man, exemplifies even more forcefully the truth that there is 
no remission of sins but by blood: Et sine sanguinis effusione 
non fit remissio. (Hebrews 9:22) 


Nonetheless, the mystery is still not resolved. 
There are on earth souls exempt from all trace of sin and 
imperfection. Leaving aside the Most Holy Virgin, con- 
ceived without sin, and St. John the Baptist, sanctified 
in the womb of his mother, a multitude of other saints 
have led quite celestial lives here on earth, closely 
united to God, without any coarse desire or any trace of 
the senses ever darkening the beauty and radiant splendour 
of their souls. Yet they have assumed a larger share of 
this immense legacy of pain bequeathed to our sorrowful 
humanity . 

Hence suffering has a higher and more general cause 
than atonement. That cause is the consequence of one of 
the most profound and incomprehensible mysteries of our 
Faith, in which the whole economy of Christianity is 
summed up and on which we seldom ponder, the mystery of 
the incorporation of our life in the divine life of Jesus 

It can be said that, in a certain sense, Jesus Christ 
in Heaven is not complete. On the throne where, since His 
glorious Ascension, He has reigned seated at the right 
hand of His Father, there is still not the totality , but a 
mere beginning of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is "yester- 
day, and today and the same for ever. "[339] Jesus Christ 
and the universality of the faithful form but one body and 
one spirit, unum corpus et unus spiritus. [340] This 
mystical body of Christ, which is the same as the Church, 
is built up gradually: it expands and grows by incorporat- 
ing the elect, whose minds are open to the light of the 
Faith and whose hearts to the unction of charity. Jesus 
Christ will not attain His perfect development, He will 
not reach the fullness of His years and the maturity of 
man, until the angel of the Lord shall have marked the 
seal of the living God upon the forehead of the last of 
the predestinate. Until that day the mystery of the 
Ascension will continue; it endures and increases each 
time that a soul co-operates efficaciously with this 
divine structure and, emerging from a pure life, superadds 
itself to form the celestial city, and "super-constructs" 
itself, as a living stone, in the eternal basilica of the 

Now, the mystical and collective body of Jesus Christ 
is modelled upon His individual body. 

To bring about our redemption, Jesus Christ had no 
need to pass through a period of thirty-three years' 
duration. Scarcely after having been conceived He could 
have leapt forth from his mother's womb in dazzling 
splendour, and gone to astonish Heaven by His triumphant 
and unexpected entry. This He did not wish. To enter the 
sanctuary of His glory, the shortest and easiest way was 
not the one ^which most attracted His heart. He preferred 
to ascend to Heaven by the bloody stages of His ignominies 
and searing pains. He desired that the whole of eternity 
and the omnipotence of His radiance should spring from the 
very scars of His wounds; and, so that there should not be 
a single part in the whole of His body which did not shed 
its special ray of beauty, He desired to give it over 
completely to pain and, from head to foot, to feel its 
cruel, murderous assaults. 

[339] Christus heri et hodie; ipse et in saecula: (Hebrews 13:8) 
[340] Ephesians 4:4. 


What was accomplished in Jesus Christ individually 
must be continued in His collective or mystical body. 
Such is the law of indestructible solidarity, established 
between the head and the members. It would scarcely be 
fitting if the latter were to soar up into glory without 
passing through the transformations endured by the head. 
It cannot- be granted that Jesus Christ wanted to open up 
two differing- paths leading to Heaven, one for Himself, 
"rough and _ excruciating , the other for His followers, 
comfortable and strewn with roses and pleasures. The 
Apostle teaches us that the body of Jesus Christ is 
closely bound together in all its parts; all disparate 
elements are incompatible with its composition; [341] it is 
sublimely arranged, and unites in its structure that 
harmony and perfection which, one day, will produce an 
incomparable reflection of the sovereign glory and maj- 
esty. Now, says St. Bernard, would it not be an unnatural 
medley, a strange, incongruous contrast, if a head crowned 
with thorns were joined to an exquisite limb, or a flesh 
scourged with lashes to a flesh reared in luxury and 
softness? Pudeat sub capite spinato membrum esse deli- 

Ah, the sufferings and afflictions which break our 
hearts and draw harrowing cries from us, even to the point 
of making us shed tears of blood, are far from leaving 
Jesus Christ indifferent. No one has had more experience 
of them than He, or felt them more keenly; for He suffer- 
ed their effects, and, in the Garden of Olives, as Isaias 
says, personally bore our infirmities and carried our 
sorrows. [342] However, would not a natural sense of pity 
which led Him to abolish suffering and dry up the source 
of our groans at every turn be, on His part, an illogic- 
ality, an act of blind, insensate tenderness? Could Jesus 
Christ derogate from the plan of His wisdom, abolishing 
the duties inherent in the nobility of our origin and in 
the glorious prerogatives bestowed upon us by baptism? As 
subjects and members of a divine head," our first duty is 
to follow our Master in all His ways and undergo all the 
vicissitudes which He Himself endured. In order to de- 
serve to be glorified with Him one day, it is imperative 
that, on this earth, we should suffer with Him: Si tamen 
compatimur ut et conglorificemur. [343] Just as, at the 
end of our lives, we shall begin to share in the Ascension 
of Jesus Christ, so conversely, in accordance with the 
mind of the Apostle, we must complete in ourselves, as 
long as our pilgrimage lasts, that which is lacking in the 
sufferings and anguish of His Passion: adimpleo ea quae 
desunt passionum Christi. [344] 

The Passion of Jesus Christ did not, indeed, end on 

[3 41] Ex quo totum corpus compactum, et connexum per omnem 
juncturam subministrationis, secundum operationem in mensuram 
uniuscujusque membri, augmentum corporis facit in aedificat- 
ionem sui in charitate. (Ephesians 4:15) 

[342] Vere languores nostros ipse tulit et dolores nostros ipse 
portavit. (Isaias 53:4) 

[343] Romans 8:17. 

[344] Colossians 1:24. 


On Calvary Christ endured pain in all its intensity. 
His pain was immense, as bitter as the waters of the 
ocean; it exceeded all measure, all comparision and all 
expression. But He did not endure pain in all its forms. 
He was pierced by nails, but He was not burned over a slow 
fire. He saw His disciples flee, frightened of the scandal 
of the Cross; He did not experience that other kind of 
pain, less sharp, no doubt, but more extensive and filled 
with groans and tears, of a mother who sees death wrench a 
beloved child from her arms. He felt real pain, caused by 
the sins and malice of men, but He did not feel the imagin- 
ary and fanciful sorrows of a rebellious soul, which feeds 
on myths, and looks forward with delirious fervour to a 
future it is unable to attain, and cannot find contentment 
in duty and the austere practice of virtue. Jesus Christ 
felt the shame and repentance due for our sins; He was not 
smitten with the remorse and shame which overwhelm the 
sinner as he recalls his own iniquities. All these 
different kinds of pain, which Jesus Christ did not suffer 
in His own person, He must complete in His members. The 
sorrowful Passion of the Saviour must be consummated in 
all ages and places. For, just as later, in Heaven, Jesus 
Christ will be all and in all through His bliss and 
glory, so, in this world below until the end of time, He 
must be all and in all through his afflictions and agonies, 
omnia et in omnibus Christus. [345] 

These considerations explain the ardent thirst for 
suffering which consumed the saints, and the indescribable 
delights which made them thrill with joy at the stake and 
on the rack, when their flesh was being burned and their 
bones dislocated. The love of the Cross with which they 
felt inflamed made them break forth in incomprehensible 
strains of joy. 

St. Theresa, numb with cold, tormented by rheumatism 
and overwhelmed by fatigue and austerities, yet transfixed 
in the inmost depths of her soul with the sword of the 
Seraphim, would exclaim, amidst her languor and distract- 
ion: aut Pati, aut mori - either suffer or die. 

St. Ignatius of Antioch, sentenced to be thrown to 
the wild beasts, was on his way to Rome to take part in 
the festive games ordered by the emperor Trajan. On the 
journey he was surrounded by soldiers, savage beasts with 
human faces, who roared about him like tigers and leopards. 
Amidst their vociferous clamour, and escorted by friends 
and disciples who pressed forward to receive his final 
greetings and injunctions from his own lips, he majestic- 
ally raised his head, already shining with a celestial, 
superhuman glory, and, seized with a holy transport, full 
of hope in God, uttered words hitherto unknown to the 
human tongue: 

"May the fury of the beasts be my joy.... Be not 
moved by a false compassion for me. If you act against me 
in this way, I shall be the first to excite the animals 
and urge them to . devour me. -Forgive me, my sons, I - know 
what is good for me. I am now beginning to be a worthy 
disciple of -Jesus Christ, and no longer seek visible 
things, so that I may the more swiftly and surely find 
Jesus Christ... Yes, "eome fire, cross and beast, come the 
severing of my limbs and the breaking of my body." 

And, on hearing the roar of the lions, he cried out: 

[345] Colossians 3:11. 


-I am the grain of Jesus Christ, I want to be ground 
by the' tTeth^of 3 the animals so that I may be served as 
pure bread at Christ's table." [346] 

To understand the sentiments which inspired the holy 

irt^ll%elTcX^l%Z e cZ,c h and Heaven to a granary, 
and the elect to a grain of wheat. 

This similitude is the source of a whole doctrine and 
a lofty moral. 

The qrain of wheat does not attain its complete 


„„„ , s autumn draws to its close, the farmer ploughs 
*-h« araln of wheat into the furrow; the grain dissolves 
and Scompoles under the effect of the humidity, mangles 
with other sap and disappears, so much so that, to the 
casual observer, it seems irretrievably lost; but at the 
^•ivo+- r^q of the spring sunshine, the grain tnat seemeu 

fern" - ^is ifng -e f i^ point 1, , the J^-n 

Se^and* in luTVo^e P t°nT £ oo/ano I en of | ,..«.- 

unxa .l . T+- v/ill be placed upon me 

f ?^r° n tht°priestwuf pronounce over it'the sacramental 
w"or£'o desecration , this time it will be utterly am- 
!?fr . ^iohi- 1-0 the root of its substance; no trace or 

become the God whom the angels adore. [347] 

[346, utinam fruar bestiis quae mihi sunt paratae , ? m= « »ro 
mihi d Ve dr e L eS nelo 1 uf\"ioTnm a \afb Y rr 1 no n a kud e e t ant corpus 

Tttfn ere! "i^ -i'"™^ ~^h&°i .^iM.' ^ " 
urgebo, ut devorer. ^"'f t T esse discipulus, nihil de his 
ego scio ; »1S'° 'Vt » to" inveniam, ignis, 
2SS. V be d s e t^e r . to^S ossi^. a me : h [r um dlvisio et tetius 
S-Ch^to-^!'- cUf Tam^a^^sTt ad bestias et 

Shfifti ^"^t^rS.tiSS'-iil.^-'uV- pa s mundus in- 
veniar! (St. Jerome: Life of Stu. Ignatius, book 1) 

fuerit, multum fructum affert. (John 12:24) 


Thus it is only by undergoing a threefold death that 
man shakes off the coarse trammels of material nature 
which darken his vision and corrupt him, and emerges from 
the transient and finite into the eternal and infinite. 

In order to raise himself to the height of perfection 
and restore the faded image of God in him, it is necessary 
for him to die to his senses, his spirit and his own 
judgements, and, finally, to immolate himself in his heart 
and die to his own affections. 

Jesus Christ is the father of the family, and the 
great celestial harvester. From Heaven, where He is 
seated, He sees the good seed on earth dissolve and perish 
in the fire of affliction. Far from feeling sorrow, His 
divine heart quivers and breaks out in transports of joy 
and benediction, exclaiming: "This is My wheat; it is 
being purified and transformed; it will be worthy to enter 
into My fullness; and then the most ardent desire of My 
heart will be fulfilled." 

Such is the magnificent result of suffering, which 
makes us die - for a moment - to ourselves, only to make 
us live a divine life in Jesus Christ which buries us in a 
dark and mournful shroud, only to cast into the depth of 
our being the seed of immortality and introduce us gently, 
by way of anticipation, into the state of glory and resur- 

"0 Father, all those whom Thou hast given to Me are 
become ONE with Me; They have been joined to My life by a 
union as intimate, an -affinity as wonderful, as those 
which, from all the ears of corn ground under the same 
stone, form one bread, one single substance, unus panis, 
unum corpus. " [348] 


In order to mitigate our ills and lessen our trials 
in this vale of sorrow and misery, the merciful Saviour 
desired to give us a sure pledge of His tenderness, and to 
offer us a guarantee of the heavenly bliss which He is 
preparing for us. This guarantee, this real testimony of 
the Beatific Vision, which made the souls of the saints 
sigh with joy, is not the brilliant successes of this 
world, or temporal glory or happiness, but trials and 

The saints did not aspire to any other goods, and 
wanted no other wages for their labours. If they met one 
of their friends they would say: "Come, brother; our 
dwelling-place is in the hollow of rocks, where we sleep 
on wet ground and where there is no bed, we feed on wild 
herbs, and for our refeshment "we have but the water of the 
springs; around our dwellings we hear the roars of wild 
beasts, which are however, less fearsome than inhuman 

[3 48] Ego pro eis rogo: non pro mundo rogo, sed pro his -quos 
dedisti mihi...ut omnes unum sint, sicut tu pater in me et ego 
in te, ut et ipsi in nobis unum sint. (John 17:9,21) Unus 
panis, unum corpus, multi sumus, omnes qui de uno pane parti- 
cipamus. (1 Corinthians 10:17) 


tyrants and barbarians, whose hatred and implacable 
ferocity pursue us unremittingly; but come without fear, 
there are indescribable joys and consolations, for there 
is indescribable suffering." 

At first sight, language of this kind conflicts with 
reason, and upsets all our human judgements. 

" Yet the saints, living on these lofty heights of 
faith, saw the events of the present world and the destin- 
ies of mankind from a different point of view, and a 
different perspective.- They judged the things of time by 
Seir relationship with those of ^ernity and they under- 
stood the profound meaning of one of the most sublime 
sayings of Scripture: [349] Trial worketh hope. 

Without trial there is no hope. 

Let us take the case of a man whose every desire on 
this earth is satisfied; he will be lulled to sleep amidst 
this fatal prosperity; he will seek no other life, 
thoughts of Heaven will be powerless to detach him from 
the llime of material and tangible things; but, should an 
affront to honour or a cruel affliction press its sharp, 
painful barbs into that man, then like a liquor compressed 
into a narrow vessel, his heart, annihilated and crushed 
neaththe weight of the misfortune, will at once seek a 
way out for itself; and not finding a single obpect to 
which it can turn for support or which assures it of 
relief, it breaks free from the ephemeral bonds of space 
and time, and casts its longing gaze upon the mountains of 
infinite Mercy whence flows all refeshment, light and 

The Patriarch Job, in his moving history, reveals to 
us the profound economy of suffering, and describes the 
abundant founts of joy wherein souls can drink deep amidst 
the most heart-rending sorrows . 

Job had flocks and countless sheep; and these flocks 
were decimated by epidemics and plagues. Job had magnifi- 
cent, sumptuous houses; and these houses were consumed by 
fire from Heaven. He had children who were his pride and 
iov, united to one another by the tenderest affection; and 
one day, while they were seated at a fraternal repast, 
thty lost their lives, pitifully crushed beneath falling 
ruins." He had friends; and these, instead of comforting 
him, considered that he had been struck by the hand of 
Heaven for some mysterious and unknown crime. He had a 
wife; and his wife, filled with disgust and horror, shun- 
ned the infection of his sores. Finally, he had a God to 
Whom he offered sacrifice seven times a day; and God 
withdrew from him the dew of heavenly consolation and 
seemed to have utterly abandoned him. 

[349] Scientes, quod tribulatio patientiam operatur; patientia 
autem probationem, probatio vero Spem. (Romans 5:3,4.) 


Certainly, never before had such a violent profusion 
of pain fallen upon the head of a victim. 

At one moment despair seemed to overcome the soul of 
Job, and his whole strength appeared as if shackled. 

"My soul," he exclaimed, "is weary of my life... Let 
the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which 
it was said: A man-child is conceived. Let that day be 
turned into darkness: let not God regard it from above: 
and let not the light shine upon it. . . Let a darksome 
whirlwind seize upon that night: let it not be counted in 
the days of the year, nor numbered in the months. . . Why 
didst thou bring me forth out of the womb? O that I had 
been consumed that eye might not see me... Why received 
upon the knees? Why suckled at the breasts? Shall not 
the fewness of my days be ended shortly? Suffer me, 
therefore, that I may lament my sorrow a little before I 
go, and return no more to a land that is dark and covered 
with the mist of death. "[350] 

Suddenly, Job ceased to complain, a transformation 
came over his person, his face lit up, his countenance and 
gaze became clear and radiant; the hymn of hope sprang 
from his lips, like a torrent of joy and peace. How 
lovely it is to see this Job, who had previously said to 
the worms, "My mother and my sister," and to rottenness, 
"Thou art my father," when, seated on his dunghill, like a 
conquering hero he cries out, in the elation and enthus- 
iasm of his faith: 

"I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day 
I shall rise out of the earth... and in my flesh I shall 
see my God." [351] 

Never had human lips given voice to a canticle more 
eloquent and divine. Does not this prime example of the 
sorely-tried, crushed and annihilated just man, reduced to 
the ultimate degree of moral and material want, gain 
compensation, in the twinkling of an eye, for all that he 
has suffered? He leaps to his feet and puts himself 
beyond the senses, beyond human nature and anything that 
human reason has dared to conceive. His prophetic gaze 
encompasses the span of the ages, and he knows intuitively 
the day when he will shake off the dust from his coffin - 

[350] Pereat dies in qua natus sum et nox in qua dictum est: con- 
ceptus est homo! Dies ille vertatur in tenebras, non requirat 
eum Deus desuper, et non illustretur lumine... Occupet eum 
caligo et involvatur amaritudine. . . Quare non in vulva mortuus 
sum, egressus ex utero non statim perii? - Quare exceptus 
genibus? Cur lactatus uberibus? 

...Numquid non paucitas dierum meorum finietur brevi? 
Dimitte ergo me ut plangam paululum dolorem meum, antequam 
vadam et non revertar, ad terram tenebrosam et opertam mortis 
caligine. (Job, 3:10.) 

[351] Scio enim quod redemptor meus vivit, et in novissimo die 
de terra surrecturus sum... quern visurus sum, ego ipse, et oculi 
mei conspecturi sunt et non alius. (Job 19: 25,27) 


an intuition written in the unshakable certainty, en- 
graved in the depths of his heart: "I know that my Redeemer 
xiveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the 
earth... and in my flesh I shall see my God." 

How right the admirable Patriarch was, at the end of 
his beautiful canticle, to cry out again: Who will grant 
me that my words may be written? Who wi 1 1 grant me that 
they may be marked down in a book, with an iron pen and in 
a plate of lead, or else be graven with an instrument in 
flintstone?"[352] - doubtless so that they might be read 
by the generations to come, and fill with the same consol- 
ations the immense family of the distressed whose only 
nourishment is bitter bread and tears. 

"I know that my Redeemer liveth." Oh, which of us 
has ever uttered those words of Job with lively faith 
without at once feeling their effects? Have not these 
words brought the dawn of calm amidst the deepest mourn- 

Have they not filled our inmost soul with a higher, 
unknown joy, just when a tear of blood was slipping from 
our eyelids? Roaming about, bereft of everything, laid 
low in the wake of triumphant rapacity, we found in the 
inexhaustible fount of our woes reasons for love and 
trust. Far from becoming downcast and giving vent to 
impatience and grumbling, we blessed God, dimly perceiving 
the infinite depths of His mercy in the secrets of His 
justice. If the Lord, we would say, gives happiness to 
His friends, what does He reserve for His servants? If, 
in distributing good and evil things, He turns the scales 
towards those who offend and blaspheme Him, the reason is 
that, for His friends, all the wealth and all the empires 
of the world seem to Him too insignificant a present. Let 
us, then, rejoice in our tribulations, and let us measure 
our future greatness by our present affliction and by the 
severity of our trial . 

In his homily on Dives and Lazarus, St. John Chrysos- 
tom reveals to us the sublime philosophy of suffering. 
Paraphrasing the passage in St. Luke where the rich man, 
tormented with pain, beseeches Abraham to permit Lazarus 
to bring him a little drop of water on the tip of his 
finger in order to refresh his parched, burning tongue, he 
comments upon the words of Abraham as he says to Dives: 
"Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy 
lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is 
comforted and thou art tormented. And besides all this, 
between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos; so that 
they who would pass from hence to you cannot, nor from 
hence come hither. " [353] From this reply of Abraham, 

1352] Quis mihi tribuat ut scribantur sermones mei? Quis mihi 
det ut exarentur in libro. Stylo ferreo et plumbi lamina, vel 
celte sculpantur in silice. (Job 19: 23,24) 

[353] Elevans autem oculos suos, cum esset in tormentis, vidit 
Abraham a longe, et Lazarum in sinu ejus. Et ipse damans 
dixit: Pater Abraham, miserere mei, et mitte Lazarum, ut inti- 
gat extremum digiti sui in aquam, ut refrigeret linguam meam, 
quia crucior in hac flamma. - Et dixit illi Abraham: Fili, 
recordare quia recepisti bona in vita tua, et Lazarum similiter 
mala, nunc autem hie consolatur, tu vero cruciaris. - Et in his 
omnibus, inter nos et vos chaos magnum firmatum est, ut hi qui 
volunt hinc transire ad vos non possint, neque inde hue trans- 
meare . (Luke 16: 23-26.) 


St. John Chrysostom draws an admirable teaching. 

The evil Dives, says Abraham, had received his good 
things in his life. In what way? The great commentator 
explains it thus: Dives, amidst his great wickedness and 
depravity, had, in this world, done a few good things. In 
the present life, no one can be absolutely bad; at times 
the most wicked malefactors comply with the moral law on 
certain points; amidst their dissipation, they maintain 
some remnants of natural virtue. Inhuman, and slaves of 
their cupidity, as they are, nevertheless there are rare 
and exceptional circumstances when they consent to be 
just, merciful and impartial. Now God, reserving to 
Himself the task of punishing them rigorously one day on 
account of their crimes, and, on the other- hand, desiring, 
for the honour of His justice, to leave no good work 
unrewarded, however small and imperfect it may be, often, 
in this world, showers pleasures and temporal goods upon 
the wicked and ungodly. He grants them, as to Dives, a 
dazzling, sumptuous life: exquisite and abundant food, 
soft carpets, a large number of flatterers and parasites, 
the glitter and pomp of all desirable pleasures. Thus 
Dives had received his good things. 

Lazarus, by contrast, endowed with all the heavenly 
gifts and having attained the height of perfection by his 
heroic patience, had probably fallen through weakness into 
some slight faults. We may suppose that, at the sight of 
the ostentatious wealth of the man whose crumbs and sur- 
plus he had begged in vain, his heart had felt momentarily 
embittered and revolted. Perhaps his faith and trust had 
faltered and, to some extent, weakened. Now God, who 
intended to place Lazarus among His elect and crown him 
through all eternity, and who, on the other hand, will 
take the just to Himself only when they have been com- 
pletely purified of every fault, desired in His hidden 
designs that Lazarus should undergo long and difficult 
trials during his earthly career, and sent him sores, 
sickness, poverty, abandonment and contempt. Thus, when 
Lazarus reached the end of his life, he had paid his debt 
to justice, he had received his woes. 

Dives and the poor man each received their due from 
the divine Remunerator: the rich man - sensual pleasures, 
honours and wealth in this life. but, in return, endless 
and unsparing punishments; the poor man - extreme trials 
and tribulations in this life, but, in compensation and at 
the end of the trial, unmixed and unchangeable happiness. 
Thus it is that order and equality will one day be eter- 
nally restored, and that the conduct and hidden designs of 
divine Providence will find their complete justification 
on the Day of Judgement. 

Let these salutary considerations be engraved upon 
our minds, and then life's adversities will never succeed 
in disheartening us. Far from breaking out into com- 
plaints and grumbling against the harshness of God when_ 
His paternal hand strikes us, we shall bless Him at all 
times, gratefully receiving the afflictions of the body 
and the cruel sorrows of the mind as the surest sign of 


His preference and tenderness. [354] For whom the Lord 
loveth, he chastiseth. [355] Did not this thought open to 
the saints the source of the firmest and most exhilarating 

If we recalled the course of life, we would readily 
acknowledge that it was on the occasion of desolations and 
great anguish that our heart felt most deeply moved by the 
action of God and that we seemed to come closer to Heaven. 

So, the world has forsaken us: we have seen our close 
friends - those who ate our bread and sat at our table - 
turn away to avoid meeting us, but immediately, the Lord, 
like a tender mother, clasped us more lovingly in His 
arms: Dominus autem assumpsit me. [356] 

Gloomy death has taken away from you a son, whom, 
like the mother of Tobias, you called "the light of our 
eyes, the staff of our old age, the comfort of our 
life. ..; "[357] or, still young, you are driven to separate 
yourself from the world, to mourn your premature widow- 
hood. Yet, have you not obtained supernatural and glor- 
ious visions? Have your eyes not had a sort of glimpse of 
the heavenly future? In the light of divine contemplation 
you have perceived those dear, lamented beings, enjoying 
repose in a better world. In your inmost soul, you have 
heard them say: We are happy and we await you. 

This pain, by crushing us in its grip, tears us away 
from love of present things; it is the sword which cuts 
through the the clouds, and half -opens other prospects for 
us, by raising us up to higher hopes. In the fire of 
tribulation, all the wealth and all the goods for which we 
yearned so ardently appear as they really are, and become 
in our eyes, mere smoke and empty shadows. Human life 
seems to us nothing more than a "moment" in the words of 
St. Paul. But that moment is a fruitful bud: fertilized 
by our tears, it will be changed into an immeasurable 
weight of glory. [358] 

Oh, let us, in short, cease to accuse the Creator of 
harshness and injustice. If God puts us to the test and 
removes what we hold dear, if He makes the bitter dregs of 
disappointments and every heart-rending pain trickle down 
upon us, it is by no means in order to rob us, eo quod 

[354] St. Ambrose held that a life free of trials was a certain 
sign of divine malediction, and said: "I should not wish to. 
live for a single night under the roof of a man who has never 
suffered." Another saint said: "Why attach any importance to 
afflictions? -Temporal life is but a transition. A whole 
lifetime of pain in this world is of no more consequence than 
an uncomfortable night in a bad hostelry." 

[355] Quern enim diligit Dominus, castigat. (Hebrews 12:6) 
[356] Psalm 26:10. 

[357] Heu, heu! me, fili mi, ut quid te misimus peregrinari, lum- 
en oculorum nostrorum, baculum senectutis nostrae, solatium 
vitae nostrae, spem posteritatis nostrae. (Tobias 10:4) 

[358] Momentaneum et leve tribulationis nostrae aeternum gloriae 
pondus operatur in nobis. (2 Corinthians 4:17) 


nolumus expoliari, the Apostle emphasizes, but in order 
the sooner and the more strikingly to reclothe us in 
immortality, as in an outer garment: Sed supervest- 

Let us take the case of a great artist who wants to 
make a statue. Beneath his hand he has a piece of coarse, 
shapeless marble; he takes up his chisel, strikes vigor- 
ously and mercilessly and makes the stone split into 
fragments, until the idea which inspires him is reflected 
in the lines of the statue and pours out that grace and 
majesty which will be the admiration of the world. 

God does the same: holding in His paternal hand the 
chisel of mortification, He cuts into the quick of our 
affections. He lets Himself be moved neither by our 
groans nor by our cries. Mercilessly, He cuts off those 
links, those friends, that health or reputation, which 
were as living parts of ourselves. In the fire of pain, 
He absorbs the attachments, the secret and invisible links 
which draw us into love of perishable, earthly things. He 
melts them down, violently eliminating all that remains in 
us of dross, human alloy and sensual affections, in order 
that our souls, thus spiritualized, may become like a 
well-prepared canvas, on which the rays of divine goodness 
will, one day, succeed in leaving their imprint: ut absorb- 
eatur quod mortale est a vita - that what is mortal may be 
swallowed up by life. [360] 

Before being subjected to this purification, man 
resembles tainted, murky sand; cast into the crucible of 
suffering, he becomes refined, and is now a limpid, trans- 
parent crystal, where the substantial glory of God, no 
longer encountering any obstacle, can flow freely, like a 
river without bed or banks: then God will be all and in 
all things. Just as the images of the sun, of palaces and 
of trees are reflected, with their shapes and sharpness of 
outline, in the mirror of a clear river, so the perfec- 
tions of the divine attributes will be reflected on all 
the elect without losing their immutable indivisibility. 
We shall be enveloped in the radiant light of the divine 
life; it will then be the end, the consummation, the age 
when time has run its course, the reign of stability and 
repose, the happy reign to which creatures look forward, 
and for which they call with such groaning, like a mother 
in labour who calls to be delivered, and expresses her 
suffering in plaintive cries and long, painful sighs, 
omnis creatura ingemiscit et parturit usque adhuc. [361] 

Such was the hope of the incomparable mother of the 
Machabees. She had seen the tender bodies of her six 
young children being torn apart and mangled before her 
eyes by the sword of an inhuman tyrant. She stood, bathed 
in their blood, amidst -their mutilated and scattered 
limbs. . Yet in spirit she entered the tabernacles of 

[359] 2 Corinthians 5:2. 
[3 60] T Corinthians 5:4. 
[361] --Romans- 8:22. 


eternal joy and the abode of calm and sweet transports. 
All the horror which this fearful sight aroused in her, 
aLl the grief and cruel pangs inflicted upon her maternal 
heart, faded before the radiance of her hope, and she 
encouraged the youngest son, saying: "My son, have pity 
upon me that bore thee nine months in my womb and gave 
thee suck three years and nourished thee and brought thee 
up unto this age: I beseech thee, my son, look upon Heaven 
and earth and all that is in them: and consider that God 
made them out of nothing, and mankind also: So that thou 
shalt not fear this tormentor, but, being made a worthy 
partner with thy brethren, receive death that in that 
mercy I may receive thee again with thy brethren. " [362] 

Let us conclude with a final point. 

In the time of the Emperor Theodosius, there was a 
woman in the East whom the fires of youth and the taste of 
pleasure, along with the perils of poverty, had plunged 
into the disorders of a life of corruption and licen- 

This woman's name was Mary. She was converted sin- 
cerely to God, and the Church has crowned her and raised 
her to the honours of the altar under the name of St. Mary 
of Egypt. 

She betook herself one day to Jerusalem, for the 
great solemnities of the feast of the Exhaltation of the 
Holy Cross. Suddenly she thought she heard a voice, 
coming from the banks of the Jordan and the depths of the 
wilderness, call out to her: Come over to us, and you will 
find innocence and repose. 

Without waiting, although the day was beginning to 
decline, she hastened to run to the the place indicated; 
but the water was deep, the land around the river aban- 
doned and deserted, and the voice, becoming more insist- 
ent, called out unceasingly, in a ringing tone: Come over 
to us, and you will find innocence and repose. 

While she wandered about here and there, consumed 
with anxiety and fretting in expectation, she saw, coming 
towards her on the shore a man of the desert, one of those 
great hermits, with a face transfigured by penance and the 
voice and gaze of a wonder-worker. 

He cast his cloak upon the river, and beckoned to the 
Egyptian woman to stand on it. 

Then in the distance, beneath the clear light of the 
moon, one might have seen the resplendent courtesan walk- 
ing dry shod over the water, fleeing what she had loved, 
and departing in silence, far from the noise of men, to 
throw her soul upon God, immersed in the ecstatic joys of 
prayer and in the chaste and austere delights of penance 
and immolation. 

[362] Itague inclinata ad ilium, irridens crudelem tyrannum, ait 
patria voce: Fili mi, miserere mei, quae te in utero novem 
mensibus portavi, et lac triennium dedi et alui, et in aetatem 
istam adduxi. - Peto, nate ut aspicias ad coelum et ad terrain 
et ad omnia quae in eis sunt; et intelligas quia ex nihilo 
fecit ilia Deus, et hominum genus... Suscipe mortem ut in ilia 
miseratione cum fratribus tuis te recipiat. (2 Machabees 7: 


She lived for many years in the desert, visited by 
angels, immersed in the transports of divine contemplation 
and drinking deeply of the foretastes of paradise. 

Then, one Good Friday, far from the sight of 
men, on the banks of a steep, wild torrent, attended 
solely by God and His angels, she died. We may believe 
that her final ble.ssing, and the prayer of her agony, were 
for the hermit who led her into the wilderness and, in 
making her love suffering, opened her soul to the treas- 
ures of peace and cleared the way for her along the path 
of everlasting bliss. 

May we, too, gentle reader, deserve a similar favour 
from you. In offering these conferences for your medi- 
tation, we have no other purpose than to turn souls away 
from the limited concerns of time, and raise them up to 
the thought and desire of the good to come. These modest 
pages, which we submit to your indulgence, are but the 
ration of deliverance, a compass intended to guide our 
lives through the numerous perils of this world - in 
short, a skiff which may help us reach the shores of 

This book is a mere reminiscence and feeble echo of 
our apostolate. However, just as, when autumn is ending 
and the trees shed their fading leaves and become bare, it 
often happens that a lingering passer-by gathers up these 
disregarded leaves in spring in order to build a bed or 
put together a shelter for himself, so, likewise, it often 
happens that the seed which has not taken root in the 
field of the head of the household is later blown away by 
the gusts and whirlwinds of the storm, beyond deserts and 
oceans, and, after a period of many years, raises up 
forests and ripens crops. Similarly, these studies on our 
last ends may have the power to lift souls up to meditate 
upon the things to come, or, at the very least, our feeble 
words will be for some sluggish Christians a seed blessed 
by God, which will bear fruit when the time of the harvest 
has come. How fortunate if they should have the power to 
help us through the stormy and uncertain course of our 
pilgrimage, and enable us more surely to reach the eternal 
meeting-place which awaits us, one day, in the Heart of 

If we dared flatter you with this hope, gentle reader, 
we would bid you good-bye - until we meet again! The time 
is near when the hour of the final departure will strike, 
when the celestial spouse Whom we have loved and served 
will say to us: Pass, come to me and enter into bliss and 
eternal repose!